The Slovenia Times

Three bombs successfully deactivated in Nova Gorica

A bomb squad is moving a WWII bomb after deactivation. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Residents from both sides of the Slovenian-Italian border were able to return to their homes after a Slovenian bomb disposal unit safely defused two WWII-era aerial bombs and detonated another one in the western City of Nova Gorica on 17 March.

The three unexploded devices were discovered by bomb disposal experts earlier this month as they scanned the area of the Nova Gorica train station, which lies on the border with Italy, in preparation for an upgrade of the train station.

The operation required the evacuation of almost 3,400 residents in a 400-metre radius around the site, of which more than 2,300 on the Slovenian side and nearly 1,100 on the Italian. Moreover, movement was banned in a radius of 600 metres around the site.

Sirens went off just after 10am and about two hours later the first deactivation, the riskiest of the three, was completed.

A 100kg aerial bomb of unknown origin with a faulty fuse was moved into a 6-metre-deep hole before being fitted with explosive and covered with sand. The national unexploded ordnance unit detonated the explosive, which resulted in a cloud of white smoke.

The fact that the explosion was contained underground indicates that the bomb squad correctly assessed the required depth for the explosion, squad member Aljaž Leban told the press afterwards. The explosion did not result in any scattering of material or cause damage.

Shortly after the detonation of the first bomb, the Civil Protection service announced a second aerial bomb had been deactivated after its fuse was removed, and a short while later the sirens went off announcing the end of danger, meaning that the third aerial bomb had been deactivated as well.

Both bombs, an American and a British-made one, had their fuses removed and will now be moved to a warehouse and later destroyed, Leban told the press.

Nova Gorica Mayor Samo Turel thanked all those involved and praised cross-border cooperation.

In Slovenia alone, 120 police officers, firefighters, Civil Protection service members, scouts and other services took part in the efforts to ensure everything ran safely.

"I thank you all from the heart. We've shown how to successfully complete a potentially highly risky operation with good planning and management. Hat off to the bomb squad! They've shown once again what they're made of, proving their expertise, and above all knowledge and courage."

Turel also thanked the authorities in Italy, as well as residents "who really respected and heeded all instructions and orders so that the task could be completed safely".

"I hope such an operation will not be needed again," said Turel.

Only last year an aerial bomb had to be deactivated in a similar campaign. The area of Nova Gorica train station was bombed several times by the allies just before the end of WWII.

Rail station reconstruction will continue under the watchful eye of the national unit for unexploded ordnance, said Leban.


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