70000 flee in Greece over WWII bomb scare

70000 flee in Greece over WWII bomb scare

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.

More than 300 disabled people and bed-bound patients were the first to move out on Saturday morning, at the start of what is being described as the biggest peacetime evacuation in Greece's history.

Greek soldiers yesterday defused a World War II bomb in the second-largest city Thessaloniki after evacuating tens of thousands of people from the area.

The 250kg bomb was discovered about five meters below ground during excavation works at a gas station last week. Authorities had shut down a 1.9 kilometer (1.2-mile) radius for experts to safely work on the bomb.

The bomb was discovered during road works last week and is due to be disposed of on Sunday.

How much of a threat are unexploded bombs?

Around 1,000 policemen have been deployed to the area, police said. A state of emergency was declared in the region.

The bomb was deactivated by specialists by midday and was taken from the site, just to the west of central Thessaloniki, to a military shooting range to be destroyed.

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

Colonel Nikos Fanios, an army spokesman, said the device's exterior was too degraded to be able to determine whether it was a German or an Allied bomb.

Alexander Bogdani and his wife, Anna Bokonozi, left on foot, pushing a stroller with their toddler daughter.

They were targeting local German rail facilities, Gerasimou said. Trains were halted and church services have been cancelled.

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

But one resident said he remembered the day it fell.

According to Greek media reports, the bomb was dropped by a British plane during air strikes on the city's nearby railway station and port in 1943. 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.

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