STA, 31 October 2019 - The first of two WWII-era bombs discovered at construction sites in Maribor last week was successfully defused in the early afternoon on Thursday. Sirens signalled it was safe for residents living within a 300-metre radius to return to their homes just before 2 pm, less than two hours after the start of operation.
The 250-kilogramme bomb, one of thousands dropped on Maribor by the Allies between 1944 and 1945, was deactivated by experts of the national unit for protection against unexploded ordnance. Maribor police PR officer Miran Šadl told the press that technicians managed to unscrew both detonators.
The bomb has been found by construction workers near the Europark shopping centre, which is closed today, as Slovenia observes Reformation Day, a bank holiday.
Today's evacuation, overseen by the Civil Protection and Rescue Administration, was not too demanding, as it involved only some 80 people.
About two dozen came to the Tabor sports hall to wait out the operation. Most of them were Bulgarian construction workers and a few families. Some brought their pets with them, fearing that a potential explosion would upset them.
"We would have probably spent the day elsewhere if weather were better. But it's raining and we're better off here," Aleksander Rotman, one of the evacuees at Tabor sports hall, told the STA.
The second bomb is to be detonated on Sunday. That operation will be more demanding. The bomb is twice as strong and located at a site that will demand the evacuation of about a thousand people, including an entire hospital wing. Another 1,000 will have to stay indoors.
While today's detonation was completed at the site of the bomb, the second bomb will have to be moved to avoid an even more extensive evacuation.