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|Monday, April 30, 2001, updated at 13:58(GMT+8)|
Thousands Evacuated From Italian City to Detonate WWII BombAuthorities evacuated 77,000 people two thirds of this northern Italian city for several hours on Sunday so experts could disarm a 4,000-pound unexploded bomb dropped by British fighters during World War II.
The bomb, discovered several weeks ago buried in Vicenza's main cemetery, was successfully defused shortly after midday, Italian news agencies quoted Vicenza prefect Angelo Tranfaglia as saying.
Local shop owners and residents had spent the waning hours of Saturday night boarding up their storefronts and taping down windows as a precaution before clearing out for what Italian media reports said was the largest evacuation of its kind in Italy.
Police units were reinforced to ensure residents obeyed the evacuation orders and air raid sirens wailed throughout the morning to remind anyone who had stayed behind that the operation was under way.
Even the city's hospital, with all its patients, 100 doctors and emergency equipment, was relocated to local fair grounds. RAI state television reported Vicenza's train station also closed down temporarily before residents were allowed back into their homes.
After being initially disarmed, the cylindrical casing of the bomb was taken to a quarry in the outskirts of Vicenza, 325 miles northeast of Rome, where its core components were to be extracted.
English pilots dropped the 4,000-pound device on April 2, 1944 during a bombing campaign over northern Italy, the press reports said.
It remained buried in Vicenza's cemetery until it was discovered on March 15 by a team of construction workers who mistook the enormous metal casing for a water heater.
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