Europe

Greece evacuates 75,000 people to defuse WWII bomb

  • Military officers stand at a gas station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016 where an unexploded World War II bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep. Authorities in Greece's second-largest city on Sunday are planning to evacuate up to 60,000 residents from their homes so experts can safely dispose of the unexploded World War II bomb. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

    Military officers stand at a gas station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016 where an unexploded World War II bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep. Authorities in Greece's second-largest city on Sunday are planning to evacuate up to 60,000 residents from their homes so experts can safely dispose of the unexploded World War II bomb. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)  (The Associated Press)

  • Military officers leave a gas station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016 where an unexploded World War II bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep. Authorities in Greece's second-largest city on Sunday are planning to evacuate up to 60,000 residents from their homes so experts can safely dispose of the unexploded World War II bomb. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

    Military officers leave a gas station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016 where an unexploded World War II bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep. Authorities in Greece's second-largest city on Sunday are planning to evacuate up to 60,000 residents from their homes so experts can safely dispose of the unexploded World War II bomb. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)  (The Associated Press)

  • Experts check the location where an unexploded World War II bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep, at a gas station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016. Authorities in Greece's second-largest city on Sunday are planning to evacuate up to 60,000 residents from their homes so experts can safely dispose of the unexploded World War II bomb. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

    Experts check the location where an unexploded World War II bomb was found 5 meters (over 16 feet) deep, at a gas station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2016. Authorities in Greece's second-largest city on Sunday are planning to evacuate up to 60,000 residents from their homes so experts can safely dispose of the unexploded World War II bomb. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)  (The Associated Press)

A massive evacuation has begun in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki so experts can defuse a 500-pound unexploded World War II bomb.

An estimated 75,000 people are being evacuated in a nearly 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius Sunday. The bomb, dropped during an air raid in the 1940s, was found this month during work to expand storage tanks under a gas station.

A state of emergency has been declared in the three municipalities involved and about 1,000 police and 300 volunteers helping out. Trains have been halted and church services cancelled.

Thessaloniki's Deputy Governor Voula Patoulidou told The Associated Press "it's the first time something like this is happening in Greece."

Residents are being bused to schools, sports halls and cultural centers during the operation, which is expected to take six hours.