54,000 evacuate Italian city as experts diffuse British WWII bomb

Around 54,000 people were evacuated this morning from the southern Italian city of Brindisi as experts worked to defuse a British World War II bomb.

The 440-pound device, discovered on November 2 during works on a cinema, prompted the largest disposal operation ever seen in the country. 

Nearly two-thirds of the city’s residents – including 217 prisoners – have left the mile-wide blast radius, gas pipes within a half-mile have been cut off and even some air traffic has been suspended.

More than 1,000 police officers and 250 volunteers were deployed to ensure the city was cleared and close the access gates to prevent anyone coming in.  

Around 54,000 people were evacuated this morning from the southern Italian city of Brindisi as experts worked to defuse a British World War II bomb. A mile-wide blast radius was cleared and gas pipes were shut off within a half-mile circle

Around 54,000 people were evacuated this morning from the southern Italian city of Brindisi as experts worked to defuse a British World War II bomb. A mile-wide blast radius was cleared and gas pipes were shut off within a half-mile circle

Around 54,000 people were evacuated this morning from the southern Italian city of Brindisi as experts worked to defuse a British World War II bomb. A mile-wide blast radius was cleared and gas pipes were shut off within a half-mile circle

Nearly two-thirds of the city's residents - including 217 prisoners - have left the mile-wide blast radius, gas pipes within a half-mile have been cut off and even some air traffic has been suspended

Nearly two-thirds of the city's residents - including 217 prisoners - have left the mile-wide blast radius, gas pipes within a half-mile have been cut off and even some air traffic has been suspended

Nearly two-thirds of the city’s residents – including 217 prisoners – have left the mile-wide blast radius, gas pipes within a half-mile have been cut off and even some air traffic has been suspended

At around 6.30am mayor Riccardo Rossi sat alongside emergency service chiefs inside a ‘situation room’ where drone footage was relayed of the bomb disposal robot at work.

Adding to the complications the explosive had been damaged last month when it was discovered by construction workers.

Experts from the military and the fire brigade took around 40 minutes to extract the fuse from the historic war bomb.

Sources from the fire brigade told local media that the bomb had been successfully defused and would take it to a local quarry tomorrow to blow it up. It is understood to contain around 40 pounds of TNT.

More than 1,000 police officers and 250 volunteers were deployed to ensure the city was cleared and close the access gates to prevent anyone coming in

More than 1,000 police officers and 250 volunteers were deployed to ensure the city was cleared and close the access gates to prevent anyone coming in

More than 1,000 police officers and 250 volunteers were deployed to ensure the city was cleared and close the access gates to prevent anyone coming in

The port city, a strategic gateway to the Adriatic on the heel of Italy, was bombed by the Allies before it was surrendered in 1943.

A New York Times report from 1941 makes reference to ‘the heaviest casualties in any British air raid on the Italian peninsula since Italy declared war,’ with 120 killed or wounded in the Friday night swoop.

The city was secretly offered by the Italians along with the port city of Taranto and prompted Britain to launch Operation Slapstick, the invasion of Italy in September 1943. 

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