This summer’s heatwaves in Europe have brought more than just burned fields and record-high temperatures; due to the drought, the waters of Italy’s River Po are so low that a World War Two bomb that had been submerged was exposed.
The 450 kg (1,000 lb) bomb, which was found on July 25 near the northern town of Borgo Virgilio, close to the city of Mantua, was neutralized by military experts on Sunday, and a controlled explosion was then conducted on it.
“The bomb was found by fishermen on the bank of the River Po due to a decrease in water levels caused by drought,” Colonel Marco Nasi said.
It was no easy task to clear the bomb.
About 3,000 people living nearby were evacuated for the disposal operation, the army said. The area’s airspace was shut down, and navigation along that stretch of the waterway as well as 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, adding that if people had refused to go, operations would have been halted.
Bomb disposal engineers removed the fuse from the U.S.-manufactured device, which the army said contained 240 kg (530 pounds) of explosive.
Then the bomb squad, escorted by police, transferred the device to a quarry in Medole municipality about 45 km (30 miles) 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 roughly a third of Italy’s agricultural production and is suffering its worst drought for 70 years.