Drought-hit Italian river reveals Second World War bomb

Explosive revealed as Italy's River Po has worst drought for 70 years

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Heatwaves throughout Europe this summer have caused the level of many rivers to fall, but in Italy's River Po, the lower water line uncovered an unexploded Second World War bomb.

The explosive was discovered on July 25 near the northern village of Borgo Virgilio, close to the city of Mantua, and on Sunday military experts defused and carried out a controlled explosion of the 450-kilogram bomb.

"The bomb was found by fishermen on the bank of the River Po due to a decrease in water levels caused by drought," Col Marco Nasi said.

It was no easy task to clear the device.

About 3,000 people living near by were moved to safety for the disposal operation, the army said.

The area's airspace was shut down, and navigation along that stretch of the river, along with traffic on a railway line and state road close by, were halted.

"At first some of the inhabitants said they would not move, but in the last few days, we think we have persuaded everyone," said Borgo Virgilio's Mayor, Francesco Aporti.

Mr Aporti said that if people had refused to go, operations would have been halted.

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Bomb disposal engineers removed the fuse from the US-made device, which the army said contained 240kg of explosive.

Then the bomb squad, escorted by police, transferred the device to a quarry in Medole municipality, about 45 kilometres 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 about a third of Italy's agricultural production and is suffering its worst drought for 70 years.

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Updated: August 09, 2022, 7:17 AM
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