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World War II Bomb Spoils Weekend Plans For 75,000 Greeks

REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent

Around 75,000 people in the Greek city of Thessaloniki will be evacuated after a 500-pound unexploded World War II bomb was discovered under a gas station.

Bomb disposal experts will attempt to defuse the device during a six-hour operation Sunday. All residents within a 1.2 mile radius will be evacuated during the procedure.

“It is the first time something like this is happening in Greece,” Thessaloniki’s Deputy Governor Voula Patoulidou told The Associated Press. “The transfer of all residents is mandatory and we will go door-to-door to make sure everyone leaves.”

The gas station discovered the bomb while working on an expansion of fuel storage tanks. It dropped during an air raid against rail facilities during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Greece.

“The bombing was done by English and American planes on Sept. 17 1944. It was Sunday lunchtime,” survivor Giorgos Gerasimou, 86, told AP. “We could see the planes coming.”

Unexploded World War II bombs are occasionally discovered across Europe. Some 50,000 residents in the German city of Augsburg had to evacuate on Christmas Day after a 1.8 ton bomb was discovered. (RELATED: World War II-Era Bomb Ruins Christmas For 54,000 Germans)

Experts estimate that thousands of tons of unexploded material remain undiscovered across Germany from bombing campaigns during the war.

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