Greek City Evacuates 75,000 to Defuse World War II Bomb

Greek authorities have begun evacuating tens of thousands of people from the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, as a bomb disposal unit is preparing to defuse an unexploded World War II air bomb.

The authorities have ordered the full evacuation of all residents living within an almost two-kilometer radius of the site where the bomb was found. The evacuation will affect the Kordelio-Evosmos and Ambelokipi–Menemen districts, where some 72,000 people live.

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.

Thessaloniki’s Deputy Governor Voula Patoulidou confirmed this, saying “it is the first time something like this is happening in Greece.” He also stressed that “the transfer of all residents is mandatory and we will go door-to-door to make sure everyone leaves.”

The 250-kilogram bomb was unearthed at a depth of five meters while road work was being carried out last week.

Buses have been deployed to take residents to local gyms, stadiums, and cafes, and more than 300 disabled people and bedbound patients are set to be evacuated by 20 ambulances, according to the authorities.

While regional authorities say the operation may take up to eight hours, a local military spokesman, Colonel Nikos Phanios, told AFP that defusing the bomb and then moving it to a military shooting range “could take us up to two days.”

A nearby refugee camp is also being evacuated, the migration ministry said, without specifying the number of affected asylum seekers. They are to be taken on a tour of the local archeology museum.

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