Some 20,000 residents in the western German city of Cologne have been forced to evacuate their homes after authorities discovered a 200kg (31.4 stone) bomb from the Second World War.

Cologne Cathedral.

Cologne Cathedral. Image by Jiuguang Wang / CC BY-SA 2.0

Schools and kindergartens were closed and dozens of ambulances were on the scene to evacuate residents of a nursing home.

The deactivation of the bomb, which was found near Muelheim bridge crossing the Rhine River, is planned for this afternoon.

City officials said that during this time the river would be closed for shipping and the air space would be closed too.

Even 70 years after the end of the Second World War, unexploded bombs are still found relatively frequently in Germany, generally during construction in major cities.

Cologne was a regular target for Allied bombers during the war.

(Press Association)