Unexploded WWII bomb disposal completed successfully in Thessaloniki

Feb 13, 2017, 00:51
Unexploded WWII bomb disposal completed successfully in Thessaloniki

While the bomb was safely defused, evacuees will not be allowed to return to their homes until the bomb is moved to a firing range later on Sunday, where authorities will determine the best method for disposing of the bomb.

The bomb was believed to be dropped by either British or US forces in 1943-1944 targeting Nazi German facilities in Greece's second-largest city.

Around 72,000 people living in Greece's second biggest city Thessaloniki were evacuated on Sunday (12 February) so that military officials could diffuse a 250kg (550lb) unexploded Second World War bomb.

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.

A nearby refugee camp is also being evacuated, the migration ministry said, without specifying the number of affected asylum seekers.

Around 1,000 policemen have been deployed to the area, police said.

The process to unearth and defuse the bomb was delayed in part by the need to first remove a camera installed by a Greek media organization that was deemed too close to the excavation site.

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Many people left the area in their cars, but some were bused to schools and sports halls elsewhere in the city.

Resident Michalis Papanos, 71, said: 'We heard on TV that, if the bomb explodes, it will be like a strong natural disaster'.

While the defusal efforts are underway in the evacuation area, the Greek news service says all gas stations there are expected to empty their tanks, all business activity will be halted and the entire area will be covered under a state of emergency.

Many chose to do so "because they are scared of thieves", he said.

The bomb, which was defused in 30 minutes, has been taken to an army firing range.

One resident recalled the day the bomb fell. "It was Sunday lunchtime", Giorgos Gerasimou, 86, told the Associated Press, saying that he remembers the day clearly because one of his friends was killed during the raid, which targeted local German-controlled rail facilities.

"The bombing was done by English and American planes on September 17, 1944".