Military personnel of the Hellenic Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team stand at the site of the bomb in Kordelio. Pic/AFP
Thessaloniki: Authorities in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki evacuated an estimated 75,000 people yesterday so army experts could defuse a 227-kg unexploded World War II bomb found under a gas station.
The evacuation started at 7 am (local time). The police went house-to-house ringing bells and knocking on doors to remind people living within a 1.9-km radius, mostly in the western suburb of Kordelio, to leave their homes.
Bomb disposal experts started work at 11.30 am (local time), 90 minutes later than planned, but defused the bomb in only 30 minutes, Central Macedonia governor Apostolos Tzizikostas announced.
The bomb was going to be taken to an army firing range.
“The first phase of the bomb disposal has been a total success,” Tzizikostas said. “There remains its removal from the site. Residents will still not be allowed in their homes, because the removal and transport contains dangers.”
Many people left the area in their cars, but some were bused to schools and sports halls elsewhere in the city. The city’s main bus station was shut down, trains in the area were halted and churches cancelled their Sunday services.
The city also booked a 175-room hotel where people with limited mobility and their escorts were taken on Saturday.
Number of refugees among the total that was evacuated
No. of minutes it took to defuse the bomb