Tens of thousands of people were evacuated in Italy when the bomb of World War II was deactivated

ROME: Around 54,000 people were evacuated from the city of southern Italy on Sunday while experts worked to defuse a World War II bomb, in the largest operation of its kind in the country, the media said.

The British bomb, one meter (three feet) long and weighing 200 kilograms (440 pounds), was found on November 2 during work in a movie theater.

The device was damaged by the workers' equipment, making the operation more complicated.

All residents within a 1.5 kilometer radius were evacuated, and gas supplies in the houses were cut within 500 meters of the site.

Some air and rail traffic services were also suspended.

More than 1,000 members of the security forces and about 250 volunteers participated in the evacuation operation.

The AGI news agency said the evacuation of more than half of about 87,000 began on Saturday with the transfer of 217 prisoners to other detention centers.

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