updated 2/8/2009 8:53:19 AM ET 2009-02-08T13:53:19

An unexploded bomb believed to have been dropped by U.S. forces during World War II was defused and safely removed Sunday from a construction site in southern Japan.

Workers unearthed the rusty 47-inch, 550-pound bomb in late January during expansion of a gas station in the coastal city of Miyazaki, about 540 miles southeast of Tokyo.

An explosives disposal unit from Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force spent about two and a half hours removing the bomb, which was then taken to an undisclosed location, said city spokesman Hasutoshi Anraku.

The city issued evacuation orders for about 1,700 residents, and about a dozen flights were canceled at the Miyazaki airport.

Although the war ended more than 60 years ago, unexploded bombs still turn up occasionally in Japan, where U.S. forces conducted extensive air raids against major cities.

A bomb was discovered in Osaka in western Japan last summer, forcing 5,400 residents to evacuate their homes while army experts disposed of the 1-ton device. A similar bomb was found in the outskirts of Tokyo in March 2008.

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