The biggest evacuation of civilians in peacetime is underway in the city of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, after authorities discovered a 250-kilo unexploded bomb from the Second World War. More than 72,000 people are expected to leave the suburb of Kordelio and surrounding area and return to their homes after army transfers the bomb for diffusion on Sunday morning. A huge operation of the Greek army, Police and firebrigates will be conducted to transfer the bomb to a firing range and diffuse it with less possible harm.
In an operation launched at 7 am on Saturday, twenty ambulances are evacuating 320 people of the so-called vulnerable groups of the society: people with disabilities, bed-ridden elderly. Also 48 children are leaving the area on ambulances and be transferred to special facilities set by the local authorities.
The bomb was discovered last week by the crew of a gas company that was conducting works to expand the gas network underground.
The bomb shell, type AN- M64, has a weight of 250 kilos and is believed to contain 153 kg of explosives.
The bomb has been discovered under a fuel station.
According to Athens News Agency, the bomb buried in West Thessaloniki for 74 years believed to be a reminiscence of a bombardment launched by the British Allies in December 1943 against the Nazi occupations of the city. Another bomb “Made in UK” was discovered and consequently diffused twenty years ago in the broader area of Kordelio.
At 10 am Sunday, Feb 12th, a disposal unit of the Greek Army will launch the operation to have the bomb removed, transfer it to a firing range and conduct a controlled explosion.
The army yesterday dug a dike around the point where spotted the bomb of World War II in Kordelio. The mound has reached a height of one and a half meter.
The bomb will be transferred to the firing range “Askoy-Prophiti”, the procedure to diffuse it is scheduled to take place between 1 o’ clock noon and 8 o’ clock in the evening.
According to the Greek Army, access to the area is profited for humans, animals and cars and people finding bomb shrapnel should immediately contact the authorities.
Greek media reported that the fragments of the exploded bomb shell of such volume can fly up to 1,900 m away.
The transfer will be thought the Egnatia highway in the escort of army, police and firebrigates as well as as ambulances.
According to police information, the bomb is considered “ordinary” and the unit set to defuse it has deactivated dozens of similar bombs found at Thessaloniki’s “Macedonia” international airport, along the TAP pipeline route and other areas.
Local media report that more than 23,000 missiles of various calibers have been found during construction work on the gas pipeline (TAP) in Diavata on Thessaloniki. Experts have neutralized 14 active aviation bombs in the area of the airport during works to widen the runway.
The unit consists of three army officers from the Special Department for Land Mines Diffusing. They are members of EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) the diffusion is going to take place under the strict NATO guidelines for Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Publication System (AEDOPS).
All gas stations. 15 in total, in the area will have to empty their tanks from fuel and gas supply installations will be closed down, while any business activity within the evacuation zone will be halted.
The initial evacuation plans foresaw the evacuation of 250-300 people. However, authorities decided to expand the range to 2km. Not only the residents of Kordelio-Evosmos, 62,000 people, will be evacuated but also 10,000 people from Ambelokipoi-Menemeni.
Authorities have deployed more than 100 buses and municipality vans for the evacuation thus urging the residents to use also their own transport means.
Thousands have already left the area, some moved to relatives and friends in safety areas of the city. Authorities have already set up facilities for the evacuees.
Residents are concerned but they cannot do anything else than lock their doors and leave the area.
The evacuation is mandatory, the area affected will have to be totally empty by 9 a.m. Sunday the latest.
Evacuated will be also the hot spot of Softex. The Greek Migration Ministry is organizing the transport of some 800-900 people to facilities. The refugees’ and migrants’ evacuation will start at 7 am Sunday.
The entire area in a range of 2 km will be declared in a state of emergency.
Residents may return to their homes as of 5 pm Sunday.