Greece evacuates 70,000 residents from its second largest city, Thessaloniki, as a disposal unit prepares to dispose of an unexploded air bomb from World War II.
Greek authorities have started evacuating tens of thousands of residents in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, as a disposal unit prepares to defuse an unexploded air bomb from World War II.
The 250-kilogram unexploded bomb was found five meters underground, while workers were doing roadwork last week. According to officials, the bomb was too degraded to be able to determine whether it was a German or an Allied bomb.
One resident of the city told the Associated Press that British and US planes dropped the bomb on 17th September 1944, aiming at German rail facilities. German forces occupied Greece from 1941 until October 1944.
Authorities have demanded that all residents within a two kilometer radius of the area where the bomb was discovered, to evacuate. This includes the Kordelio-Evosmos and Embelokipi-Menemen districts, where an estimate 72,000 people live.
According to security chief Apostolos Tzitzikostas, the evacuation is “obligatory,” since “a bomb of this size has never been found in an area this densely populated.”
Thessaloniki’s Deputy Govrnor Voula Patoulidou said: “It is the first time something like this is happening in Greece.”
“The transfer of all residents is mandatory and we will go door-to-door to make sure everyone leaves.”
According to authorities, buses have been deployed to take residents from local gyms, stadiums and cafes. About 20 ambulances have also been deployed to evacuate 300 disabled people and bedbound patients from hospitals and homes.
Regional authorities say the defusing of the bomb could take up to eight hours. However, military spokesman, Colonel Nikos Phanios, said that defusing the bomb and taking it to a military shooting range “could take up to two days.”