Biggest peace-time evacuation of Thessaloniki city completed – video

The Army had initially estimated that the bomb weighed 500 pounds (227 kilograms). Officials said it was 1.5 meters (5 feet) long.

The bomb will be either detonated or dismantled at the firing range, Fanios said. He added that similar bombs had been found in previous years near the Macedonia Airport east of the city, but, with the area being mostly open fields, no large scale evacuation had been deemed necessary.

Sunday’s evacuation started at 7 a.m., with police went house-to-house ringing bells and knocking on doors to remind people to leave.

Bomb disposal experts started work at 11.30 a.m., 90 minutes later than planned, but defused the bomb in only 30 minutes, Central Macedonia governor Apostolos Tzizikostas announced.

Calling the operation “a total success,” he said it was the largest peacetime population evacuation in Greece and estimated it involved 70,000 people.

Many people left the area in their cars, but some were bused to schools and sports halls elsewhere in the city.

“We heard on TV that, if the bomb explodes, it will be like a strong earthquake,” Michalis Papanos, 71, told The Associated Press as he and his wife, Yiannoula, headed out of their home.

Alexander Bogdani and his wife, Anna Bokonozi, left on foot, pushing a stroller with their toddler daughter.

“We are afraid for the child,” Bogdani said.

The city’s main bus station was shut down, trains in the area were halted and churches canceled Sunday services. The city also booked a 175-room hotel where people with limited mobility were taken on Saturday.

Among the evacuees were 450 refugees staying at a former factory who were bused to visit the city’s archaeological museum.

One resident recalled the day the bomb fell.

“The bombing was done by English and American planes on Sept. 17, 1944. It was Sunday lunchtime,” said Giorgos Gerasimou, 86, whose home is half a mile away from the bomb site.

He said the Allies were targeting local German rail facilities. He remembers the day clearly because one of his 10 -year-old friends was killed in the bombing.

Nazi Germany occupied Greece from 1941 until October 1944.


The biggest evacuation plan in peacetime in Greece is underway. Six bomb squat specialists are to remove the bomb’s detonator and then the WWII bomb which was found in the Kordelios area in Thessaloniki. The WWII bomb will then be carried away from the area.

The whole operation is set to start on Sunday at 10 am.

Already the Landmine Clearing Squat has built an embankment around the area where the bomb was found. Meanwhile the authorities have evacuated some 72,000 residents from their homes.

The bomb was buried for almost 74 years in the west of Thessaloniki and was dropped by accident by the allied forces back in 1943. Allied forces had made a mistake and dropped bombs in the area killing around 500 civilians.

The Landmine Clearing Squat has removed about 23,000 missiles of various calibres during the works of the natural gas pipeline in the city. Also 14 bombs were neutralised during the widening of the Macedonia airport runway.

The whole operation is expected to last from 6 to 8 hours with the bomb carried out to a shooting practice field where the bomb will be detonated under controlled circumstances.

The mayor of Evosmos-Kordelios, Petros Soulas said that the evacuation is mandatory as it is for the safety of the civilians. He also said that the army and police will guard the resident’s houses and properties.

Fadi Fawaz’s 999 call as he tried to wake George Michael

‘He’s gone. He’s blue’: Leaked recording of Fadi Fawaz’s frantic 999 call reveals that George Michael’s lover had ‘been trying to wake the singer for an HOUR’ before finally calling an ambulance 
The singer’s lover called 999 after realising he was dead on Christmas Day

Leaked tape reveals he bafflingly spent an hour waiting for popstar to wake up before desperately trying to rouse him

He told the call handler George was ‘cold and blue’ as well as ‘stiff’

George Michael died aged 53 at the end of last year at his home in Goring

George Michael’s lover had bafflingly waited an hour while trying to resuscitate him before placing a frantic 999 call, it has been revealed.

In the four minute call placed by Fadi Fawaz to the ambulance service, he tells them Michael was ‘blue’ and ‘cold’ and confirms resuscitation probably won’t help. 

Mr Fawaz called the ambulance service and tells the call handler: ‘It’s George Michael, I think he’s dead.

‘He’s not breathing.

‘He is in bed. He is cold and he is blue.

‘He is very stiff.’

The call handler asks him: ‘Do you think he’s beyond help?’

In a call leaked to the Sun, Mr Fawaz continues: ‘He’s dead.’

‘He is stiff, yes. 

‘I have been talking to him for the last hour.’ 

When the call handler asks if the death was expected, Mr Fawaz says: ‘No, no, no, no, no, no. I’ve been waiting for him to wake him up for like, you know, for hours and he wouldn’t wake up. I went to wake him up and he was gone, you know, he’s not there.

‘He is blue and cold.

‘There is someone coming right?’

As the call handler tries to confirm the identity, he tells her: ‘It’s George Michael, you know, the singer.’

Mr Fawaz was told by police that he is no longer part of their investigation into the singer’s death at the beginning of this month.

The celebrity hairdresser was quizzed by Thames Valley Police in January as they tried to piece together the last hours of the star’s life before he died at his Oxfordshire home, aged 53.

Fawaz told them he spent Christmas Eve with the singer, but fell asleep in his car that night, only discovering he was dead when he went to wake him the following morning. 

The South Central Ambulance Service said it is launching an immediate investigation into how the tape has surfaced:

A spokesman said: ‘South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has been informed about the release of the tape of a 999 call. We take matters of confidentiality very seriously and have launched an immediate investigation.

‘As Thames Valley Police are preparing a file for the coroner we are also liaising with Thames Valley Police and are therefore not able to comment further at this time.’

Mr Fawaz, 40, is viewed as a controversial figure by some members of the singer’s family after the claim of where he slept that night.

His nephew revealed Mr Fawaz called him shortly after he called the emergency services.

Josh Fawaz, a DJ, said he picked up his phone to hear his uncle sobbing after Mr Fawaz had called the police.

He told his nephew ‘Oh God, I think he’s dead’ when he found Michael was unresponsive.

The 28-year-old told the Australia Daily Telegraph: ‘I’ve never heard a grown man cry so much. Fadi called me saying “what am I going to do without him?”

‘They spent almost every day together for six years. He was so upset, he had been crying at the house beside George and I believe he found him dead.

‘I’m the first person to know that he (Michael) passed away.’ 

After his death, Michael’s publicist said: ‘It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.

‘The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.’

Thames Valley Police said officers were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, shortly before 2pm on Christmas Day.

A spokesman said: ‘Sadly, a 53-year-old man was confirmed deceased at the scene. At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.’ 

The family is still waiting to bury the singer’s body, as toxicology tests were delayed. 

Sources say toxicology reports on the 53-year-old – which were ordered when the post-mortem examination was ‘inconclusive’ – will not be completed until the end of February.

The tests will determine whether drugs contributed to Michael’s death but can take around eight weeks to complete, meaning the singer’s loved ones are still unable to hold a funeral.

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