WWII Bomb Found and Defused in Greece, 70000 Return Home

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov Turkmenistan

Seven decades after the end of World War II, unexploded bombs from the conflict are still being found around the globe.

Regional security chief Apostolos Tzitzikostas told reporters on Friday that the evacuation is "obligatory", stressing that the operation is of an unprecedented scale, as "a bomb of this size has never been found in an area this densely populated" in Greece, according to AFP.

Army experts have completed the first stage of a massive operation to defuse and remove a WWII bomb in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, the regional governor announced Sunday. Authorities shut down a 1.9 kilometer (1.2 mile) radius to safely work on the bomb, and the operation was deemed a huge success. On Tuesday they finalized a new plan, which covers everyone living within a range of 1.2 miles around the bomb - including 62,000 people in Kordelio-Evosmos, in the northwest of Thessaloniki, and another 10,000 from a nearby neighborhood, the AMNA reports.

A thousand police officers have been mobilised for the operation, with residents given several days' warning via the media, leaflets and posts on social networks.

The explosive, which was discovered buried some 16 feet below ground near the city of Thessaloniki, was deactivated by midday, and then taken to a military outpost to be destroyed.

An army spokesperson, Colonel Nikos Fanios said that the exterior of the device was too degraded to determine whether it was a German or an allied bomb.

The 250kg (500lb) bomb was discovered during excavation works. Many people left in their cars, but some were sent in buses to schools and sports halls.

"We heard on TV that, if the bomb explodes, it will be like a strong quake", a anxious Michalis Papanos, 71, told The Associated Press as he and his wife, Yiannoula, headed out of their home.

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

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

One resident says he recalls the day the bomb fell. It dropped during an air raid against rail facilities during Nazi Germany's occupation of Greece.

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

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