Greek Authorities Prepare Evacuation ahead of Bomb Disposal

Experts check the location where an unexploded World War II bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep, at a gas station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016. AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos

THESSALONIKI – Authorities in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki are distributing fliers and making arrangements to evacuate about 75,000 people from three neighborhoods ahead of efforts to defuse a 500-pound unexploded World War II bomb.

Bomb disposal experts are to tackle the device, which buried beneath a gas station at a depth of 5.5 meters (18 feet), on Sunday. The operation is expected to last about six hours.

Authorities said Thessaloniki’s long-distance bus terminal, which is in the area, will remain shut during the operation. Trains will also stop running to and from the city, as the main railway line passes through the exclusion zone.

Thessaloniki’s Deputy Governor Voula Patoulidou told The Associated Press about 1,000 police and 300 volunteers are expected to help in the evacuation.

The bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep near the central railway station in western Thessaloniki during work to expand a gas station’s underground tanks. The existing tanks have been emptied, but previous attempts to remove the bomb were unsuccessful.

Deputy regional governor Voula Patoulidou told the Associated Press on Monday that military and police authorities will try to defuse the bomb on the spot.