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19,000 evacuated for detonation of two unexploded WW2 bombs

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19,000 evacuated for detonation of two unexploded WW2 bombs
Army officers work to neutralize the device. Photo: Italian army
11:21 CEST+02:00
A total of around 19,000 people were evacuated from their homes on Sunday as the Italian army worked to detonate two unexploded bombs, one in Umbria and one in Emilia Romagna.

More than 11,000 people were evacuated in Terni, central Italy on Sunday after a 250-kilogram bomb, which dated back to the Second World War and was loaded with over 130 kilograms of TNT, was discovered by accident during construction work.

Police and the Civil Protection Department began evacuating 11,300 local residents from the area at 6am on Sunday in order to safely remove the device. Air traffic in the area up to an altitude of 1,400 metres was also blocked.

The bomb was transported to a local quarry where the army's bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled detonation later that evening.

Terni prefect Paolo De Biagi praised those involved in what he described as a "delicate" and "dangerous" operation and commended residents for their "spirit of sacrifice" in cooperating, in a statement on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, a similar operation got underway in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Rimini. There, 6,600 people or around a third of the town's total population, left their homes for several hours on Sunday, while others in the area were warned to stay indoors with windows closed during the operation.

There were also delays and cancellations to rail traffic in the area while the army's bomb squad neutralized the 200-kilogram device.

That bomb, manufactured in the USA, also dated back to the Second World War and was unearthed at a building site. It was destroyed in a controlled detonation, with roads reopened from 12.30.

It's not uncommon for unexploded devices from the Second World War to be found in Italy: last year over 2,000 such operations were carried out.

Allied forces dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs on Italy during the fighting, and as many as one in three are thought to have failed to detonate. Bombs from both the First and Second World Wars have also been found in residential buildings, and even dug up by dogs.

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