Thursday, 23 February, 2017

Greek WW2 bomb deactivated after mass Thessaloniki evacuation

On Wednesday a police officer looks into the hole where an unexploded World War II-era bomb was found during work on a gas station's underground tanks. The city's authorities have planned a massive evacuation Sunday while they attempt to defuse View Slideshow
Darrell Mcdonald | 13 February, 2017, 00:59

Almost 72,000 residents of the Evosmos-Kordelio district were evacuated to allow the experienced squad to defuse the 250 kg bomb which had been discovered during excavation works at a gas station a few days earlier.

Thousands of Greeks evacuated their homes in the second-biggest city of Thessaloniki on Sunday to allow experts to defuse a World War Two bomb.

The 250-kilogram bomb was unearthed at a depth of five meters while road work was being carried out last week.

Regional authorities said the entire operation would take up to eight hours, but local military spokesman Colonel Nikos Phanios was more cautious.

Police went house-to-house Sunday morning, ringing bells and knocking on doors to remind people living within a 1.9-kilometer (1.18-mile) radius of the bomb site to leave their homes.

The 250kg (500lb) bomb was discovered during excavation works.

As a rule, it's considered less than desirable to have a long-unexploded bomb buried deep in the ground near your property.

"The first phase of the operation has been completed successfully, the explosive mechanism has been deactivated and now we continue to the second phase which is the removal of the bomb from the area".

Refugees living in a nearby camp will also have to be evacuated, the migration ministry said, without specifying how many.

The bomb was to be taken to an army firing range.

A state of emergency had been declared in the three municipalities affected by the operation.

"They have warned us. we are afraid for the child", Bogdani said.

The city's main bus station was shut down, trains in the area were halted and churches canceled their Sunday services.

During Sunday's evacuation, residents will be transported by bus to schools, sports halls and cultural centres elsewhere in the city while the exclusion zone is cordoned off.

Among the evacuees were 450 refugees staying at a former factory who were taken to the city's archaeological museum.

One resident recalled the day the bomb fell.

"The bombing was done by English and American planes on September 17, 1944". The Nazi Germans occupied Greece from April of 1941 until October 1944 and German bombs did fall on the city during the early stages of the invasion.

The Allies were targeting local German rail facilities, he said.

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