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mass evacuation


Greek authorities evacuated at least 70,000 residents of Thessaloniki for the disposal of a 500lb World War Two bomb.

It is thought to be one of the largest wartime bombs to be found in urban Greece in addition to being one of the largest mass evacuations.

The bomb was discovered during road works last week and is due to be disposed of on February 12.

According to officials, the bomb is too degraded to tell if it is German or an Allied bomb.

Residents within a radius of about 1.2 miles of the bomb will be compelled to evacuate the area, security officials have said.

The operation has been described by one blog as the biggest evacuation of Greek civilians in peacetime. However, it is not possible to verify such a claim.

The military says an operation of this size and complexity is the first of its kind in a densely populated area of Greece and the disposal operation should take about eight hours – but may take as long as two days.

Image source Ekathimerini

About 1,000 police officers and 300 volunteers will be deployed ahead of the disposal operation. People in the city were warned to vacate their homes several days in advance.

The evacuation is expected to cause considerable disruption in Thessaloniki, with about 450 residents of a refugee camp due to be among thousands of others being evacuated to schools, sports halls and cultural centers.

The bomb was discovered last week near a petrol station during work to expand fuel storage tanks.

A state of emergency has been declared in the three municipalities affected by the defusion operation, Thessaloniki’s Deputy Governor Voula Patoulidou told the Associated Press.

The military say they will initially try to defuse the bomb’s detonator before taking the device in its entirety to an army firing range, where a decision will then be taken on how best to neutralize it.

Thessaloniki bus terminal will be closed down while trains will also stop operating. There is also expected to be some traffic disruption in addition to interruptions to church services.

It appears the bomb was dropped by British and US planes targeting German rail facilities on September 17, 1944.


Hundreds of people have been forced to leave their homes in mountains north of Los Angeles, California, the authorities say.

The fast-moving wildfires had covered an area of 20,000 acres by July 23, sending a pall of smoke across parts of Los Angeles County.

About 300 people have been evacuated near the city of Santa Clarita.

Public swimming pools in Pasadena and Glendale closed because of smoke and falling ash.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

The wildfires, known as the Sand Fire, are being driven by high temperatures and strong winds, as forecasters warn the conditions are set to continue.

They broke out on July 22 in the Sand Canyon area near Santa Clarita and winds quickly fanned them towards the Angeles National Forest.

About 900 firefighters are battling the flames, helped by helicopters and planes dumping water and fire retardant.

According to LA County Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp, about 1,000 homes were currently in danger but if the situation worsened, up to 45,000 homes, mostly in the San Fernando Valley, could be at risk.

Among those evacuated to safety were about 400 animals from the Wildlife Waystation, a sanctuary for rescued exotic animals within the national forest.


Some 8,000 people who fled north of Fort McMurray have been airlifted by authorities as blaze engulfed the Canadian city.

Fort McMurray has been devastated by a massive wildfire.

Officials also hope that the only highway to the south will become safe on May 6 to move the remaining 17,000 people, who are in danger of becoming trapped.

The entire city of Fort McMurray – more than 88,000 people – was evacuated three days ago. Most fled south but some went north.

The fire in the province of Alberta has grown to 328.2 sq miles.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze using helicopters and air tankers.

Photo CBC

Photo CBC

The fire, which covers an area almost the size of Calgary, Alberta’s largest city, has slowed down and is now heading away from Fort McMurray.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley warned city residents that they were facing a long wait before they would be able to return home.

The blaze has already destroyed more than 1,600 homes and other buildings in Fort McMurray.

A rare province-wide fire ban has been declared to try to reduce risk of further blazes.

Most of those who fled north have been staying in oil sands work camps in the remote area.

About 4,000 of them have already been flown in military and civilian transport planes to Edmonton and Calgary and another 4,000 are expected to be rescued within hours.

The authorities hope that Highway 63, passing through Fort McMurray, will be safe on May 6 to move the rest. A helicopter is expected to lead that evacuation convoy.

The evacuees are being moved again because urban areas in the south are better able to support the displaced, officials say.

“Our focus right now is on getting those people south as quickly as possible,” Rachel Notley said.

“I must be very, very direct about this – it is apparent that the damage to the community of Fort McMurray is extensive and the city is not safe for residents.”

On the prospect of returning to the city Premier Rachel Notley said: “Unfortunately, we do know that it will not be a matter of days.”

The fire is growing in size due to high winds but it is “under control”, officials say.

It started on May 1 in Canada’s oil sands region and many oil sands projects have cut production.

Some people were forced to flee twice: first to temporary refuges south of Fort McMurray then again as the flames grew.

The government is working on finding temporary housing for families who lost their homes and belongings in the blaze.

There are still no known casualties from the fire but there was at least one vehicle crash with fatalities on the evacuation route.

Scott Long of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency called the blaze “an extreme fire event” and said that rain would be needed to fight it.

Cooler temperatures and rain are forecast, giving hope that it could become easier to contain the fire.


Canadian government has declared state of emergency in the province of Alberta after a wildfire forced all 88,000 residents of Fort McMurray to flee.

According to officials, the fast-moving blaze could destroy much of the city.

The blaze, which broke out on May 1 in the heart on the country’s oil sands region, has gutted 1,600 buildings, including a new school.

The evacuation was largest-ever in Alberta. Oil companies operating in the area have been forced to cut output.

Several companies have shut down some pipelines. This was done to help evacuate non-essential personnel, reports say.

Photo CBC

Photo CBC

So far there have been no reports of deaths or injuries in the wildfire, but two women gave birth in one evacuation centre, Reuters reported.

Bernie Schmitte, an official at Alberta’s agriculture ministry, said on May 4 that the “catastrophic fire” had so far “resisted all suppression methods”.

After flying over the burning city, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the blaze had moved north and east across Fort McMurray.

First Nation communities 30 miles south of Fort McMurray were given mandatory evacuation orders on May 4.

Unseasonably high temperatures and strong winds have combined with dry conditions to leave much of Alberta and neighboring Saskatchewan under an extreme fire risk warning.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said he would send military aircraft to help if they were needed.

Fort McMurray’s entire population of 60,000 people has been evacuated after a huge wildfire hit the Canadian city.

The fire has destroyed a number of homes, dropping ash on the streets of Fort McMurray in the province of Alberta.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Fleeing residents have caused gridlock on the main road leading from the city, 235 miles north of Edmonton.

The evacuation from Fort McMurray – which lies in an oil sands region – is the biggest in Alberta’s history.

Homes in at least two neighborhoods have been gutted, and the fire has now spread to Highway 63 – the main road into Fort McMurray from the south.

Firefighters are continuing to tackle the fire, but the local authorities have called for reinforcements, including a water-dumping helicopter.

So far there have been no reports of any injuries.


Thousands of people have been evacuated from New Orleans as Hurricane Isaac makes its slow approach.

Hurricane Isaac will hit the Louisiana city exactly seven years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm.

New Orleans has closed its new floodgates in a bid to protect it from the effects of high waters brought by sustained winds of up to 80 mph (130 km/h).

Isaac killed at least 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

It has also caused significant flooding and damage across the Caribbean and forced a day’s delay to the start of the Republican party’s congress in Tampa, Florida.

Hurricane Isaac will hit Louisiana exactly seven years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm

Hurricane Isaac will hit Louisiana exactly seven years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm

At 02:00 local time the Category One hurricane was almost stationery about 70 miles (110 km) south of New Orleans, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

Tens of thousands of people have been told to leave their homes in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, though a mass evacuation has not been ordered. Storm warnings are also in place in parts of Florida, Texas and Alabama.

Officials say Isaac is likely to weaken before it reaches New Orleans.

“We don’t expect a Katrina-like event, but remember there are things about a Category One storm that can kill you,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Of particular concern are storm surges, with peaks of up to 3.7 m (12ft) forecast in parts of Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. Rainfalls of up to 50 cm (20 inches) are forecast across wide areas, along with a high chance of isolated tornadoes along the coast.

The bowl-shaped city of New Orleans is particularly vulnerable to storms, with the centre of the city the furthest below sea-level.

But Mitch Landrieu said that the 8m-high levee gate which now protects the areas of the city that were badly flooded in 2005 had been closed since Tuesday morning.

Many residents of New Orleans have chosen to secure their homes but stay put, saying they were not too concerned by Isaac.

“I feel safe,” said Pamela Young from her home in the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood devastated by Katrina.

“Everybody’s talking <<going, going>>, but the thing is, when you go, there’s no telling what will happen. The storm isn’t going to just hit here.”

“If the wind isn’t too rough, I can stay right here. If the water comes up, I can go upstairs.”

Nazareth Joseph, who works at a hotel in French Quarter and was in the city during Katrina, said he had a busy week ahead so would stay where he was.

“We made it through Katrina; we can definitely make it through this. It’s going to take a lot more to run me. I know how to survive,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

By Tuesday night, more than 58,000 homes in New Orleans were reported to have lost power. Outages have also been reported across Louisiana and Mississippi, affecting more than 200,000 homes and business.

President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi, allowing federal funds to be released to local authorities.

Speaking from the White House, he warned residents along the Gulf Coast to heed warnings, including those to evacuate, saying: “Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.”

Shortly before Isaac reached hurricane status on Tuesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the emergency declaration fell short of the federal help he had asked for.

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A package delivered to New York World Financial Center building which appeared to be a grenade has been cleared by the bomb squad as a toy.

The suspicious packet was found at Two World Financial Center near the World Trade Center site and prompted a mass evacuation of the building at 11:00 a.m. yesterday.

The package had been spotted during routine screening, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

A package delivered to New York World Financial Center building which appeared to be a grenade has been cleared by the bomb squad as a toy

A package delivered to New York World Financial Center building which appeared to be a grenade has been cleared by the bomb squad as a toy

The police department’s bomb squad surrounded the scene in lower Manhattan.

NBC reported an “all clear” on its Twitter feed at 12:27 p.m.

Two World Financial Center was severely damaged by the falling debris when the World Trade Center towers collapsed in the September 11 attacks on New York.

The building had to be closed for repairs until May 2002 as a result of the damage.

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