Italian military safely detonated an unexploded World War II bomb that was uncovered in the drought-stricken River Po amid the historic heat wave in Europe.
The 1,000-pound US-made bomb was spotted in the dried-up river by fishermen on July 25 near the northern village of Borgo Virgilio, close to the city of Mantua.
Colonel Marco Nasi said the bomb, which was found to contain 530 lbs. of explosive material, was found on the riverbank due to a decrease in water levels.
About 3,000 people living in the nearby towns of Borgoforte and Motteggiana were evacuated for the disposal operation on Sunday, the army said.
The area’s airspace was shut down, and navigation along that stretch of the waterway as well as traffic on a railway line and state road close by were halted.
“At first, some of the inhabitants said they would not move, but in the last few days, we think we have persuaded everyone,” said Borgo Virgilio’s mayor, Francesco Aporti, adding that if people had refused to go, operations would have been paused.
Bomb disposal engineers removed the fuse from the explosive device. Then the bomb squad, escorted by police, loaded the bomb onto a truck and transferred it to an abandoned quarry in the Medole municipality about 30 miles away, where it was placed inside a 19-foot-deep hole that had been dug up for that purpose, and then blown up, reported the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.
The entire operation lasted from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. local time, including the time it took to secure the bomb, remove it from the river and destroy it.
Italy declared a state of emergency last month for areas surrounding the Po, which is the country’s longest river.
It accounts for roughly a third of Italy’s agricultural production and is suffering its worst drought in 70 years due to scorching temperatures in the region.
With Post Wires