Unexploded WW2 bomb sparks evacuation of thousands in Greece's Thessaloniki
00:48, Feb 13, 2017
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Up to 72,000 people will be evacuated from their homes in Thessaloniki so experts can defuse and remove a World War Two bomb.
Calling the operation "a total success", he said it was the largest peacetime population evacuation in Greece and estimated it involved 70,000 people.
Workers expanding storage tanks at a busy gas station in Greece made a startling discovery last week: a giant unexploded bomb.
Greek military personnel in the Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit began work on defusing the bomb at 11:30, about 90 minutes later than planned, but finished early, deactivating the device by noon.
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. 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 Greek army spokesman said the bomb's exterior had so degraded they weren't sure whether it was a German or Allied bomb - but one 86-year-old resident says he remembers it quite well.
Residents were taken to schools and sports halls so bomb experts could work at the scene. A thousand of police officers and hundreds of volunteers will secure the area.
The massive evacuation is unprecedented in Greece, "where a bomb of this size has never been found in an area this densely populated", Mr Tzitzikostas told reporters before the defusal.
'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 cancelled their Sunday services.
Among the evacuees were 450 refugees staying at a former factory, who were transported by bus to visit the city's archaeological museum.
The Allies were targeting local German rail facilities, he said.
But one resident of the city told the Associated Press that the bomb was dropped by British and United States planes targeting German rail facilities on 17 September 1944.
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