A village in northeastern France has been evacuated following the discovery of a German World War I munitions dump containing 1,652 artillery shells weighing a total of 30 tons.
The 450 inhabitants of Coucy-les-Eppes north of Reims were ordered on Monday to leave the village during the daytime for the whole week while a bomb disposal squad removes the shells. They can return to their homes in the evenings when no shells are being moved.
"If the munitions aren't being moved there is no danger," said a spokeswoman for the local authority.
A total of 26 bomb experts are working to clear the shells and move them to military sites where they will be destroyed. The depot measured 16 meters long by 1.50 meters wide and was discovered one-meter below ground by a villager who was digging in his garden.
Experts believe the shells date back to between 1915 and 1917. The biggest shells have a diameter of 21 centimeters. The area was the scene of major battles on the Western Front in World War I.
Farmers and construction workers in France and Belgium still frequently find shells from the war in the former battlefields.
cro -- with wire reports
Stay informed with our free news services:
|All news from SPIEGEL International||Twitter | RSS|
|All news from Europe section||RSS|
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2010
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH