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Italy: 54,000 people evacuated in WWII bomb scare

December 15, 2019

A British bomb carrying 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of dynamite was discovered in the coastal city of Brindisi. Authorities had to evacuate more than half of the city before attempting to defuse the 1941 ordnance.

Brindisi at dusk
Image: picture-alliance/DUMONT Bildarchiv/T. Anzernberger

Explosives experts on Sunday defused a World War II bomb in the southern coastal Italian city of Brindisi (above) following a historic evacuation of the city center.

More than 50,000 people had to leave their homes in the run-up to the operation, comprising more than 60% of the city's population. Local media described the evacuation as the largest operation of its kind since the end of the war.

Technicians guided a remote-controlled robot to defuse the explosive. Similar models of the robot had been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

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Risky business

The explosive was identified as a British bomb presumably dropped on Brindisi in 1941. It weighed more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) and carried 40 kilograms of dynamite.

The bomb was discovered during a refurbishment project for a cinema. However, workers had damaged part of the bomb, raising the likelihood that the explosive could detonate during Sunday's operation.

After removing the bomb, authorities said they would detonate it in a controlled environment next week.

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ls/cmb (AFP, AP)