ATHENA - Massive evacuation has begun in the Thessaloniki, northern Greek when 500 pound unexploded World War II (WW II) bomb defuse by experts.
Police went house to house at Sunday morning, ringing bells and knocking on doors to remind people living within a 1.9 kilometer (1.18 mile) radius of the bomb site to leave their homes.
Most were leaving in their cars, but some were being transported by bus to schools, sports halls and cultural centers elsewhere in the city, where they can get food and shelter.
Authorities believe about 75,000 people will be evacuated, most from the western suburb of Kordelio. A state of emergency has been declared in the area involved and about 1,000 police and 300 volunteers are helping in the evacuation. Trains have been halted in the area and church services cancelled.
The bomb, dropped during an air raid in the 1940s was found earlier this month during work to expand storage tanks under a gas station. Defusing it is expected to take about six hours.
"It's the first time something like this is happening in Greece," Thessaloniki Deputy Governor, Voula Patoulidou told The Associated Press (AP).
One resident says, he recalls the day the bomb fell.
“The bombing was done by English and American planes on Sept. 17, 1944. It was Sunday lunchtime,” said Giorgos Gerasimou (86) whose home is not far from the bomb site.
He said the Allies were targeting local German rail facilities and he remembers the day clearly because one of his 10 year old friends was killed in the bombing.
For known, Nazi Germany occupied Greece from 1941 until October 1944.