The heatwaves that swept across Europe this summer didn’t just bring record temperatures and scorched fields: the parched waters of Italy’s Po River are so low they’ve exposed a previously submerged World War II bomb.
Military experts on Sunday defused and carried out a controlled explosion of the 1,000-pound (nearly 500 kilograms) bomb, discovered on July 25 near the northern village of Borgo Virgilio, near the city of Mantua.
“The bomb was found by fishermen on the bank of the Po due to a drop in the water level caused by the drought,” Colonel Marco Nasi said.
It was not an easy task to eliminate the bomb.
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About 3,000 people living nearby were evacuated for the clearance operation, the army said. Airspace in the area has been closed and navigation along this stretch of the waterway, as well as traffic on a nearby railway line and national road, have been halted.
“At first some locals said they wouldn’t move, but in the last few days we think we’ve convinced everyone,” said Borgo Virgilio Mayor Francesco Aporti, adding that while people had refused to leave, operations would have been stopped.
Deminers removed the fuse from the US-made device, which the military said contained 530 pounds (nearly 250 kilograms) of explosives.
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Then the bomb squad, escorted by the police, transferred the device to a quarry in the municipality of Medole about 50 kilometers away, where it was destroyed.
Italy declared a state of emergency last month for areas surrounding the Po, which is the country’s longest river. It accounts for around a third of Italian agricultural production and is suffering its worst drought in 70 years.
© 2022 Reuters