Citizens of Bitola are literally walking on a mine field. In this city alone, at the south of Macedonia, 29.000 pieces, or over 100 tons of unexploded bombs, shells and ammunition have been found, remnants of the First World War. There are still unexploded ordnance under ground, but city authorities are still not ready to do complete demining of the city, so instead of trained deminers, bombs and shells are being accidentally taken out by construction workers while performing some dig site or reconstruction.
Such was the case a few years ago, when they began paving walkways, located between the city park and the football stadium "Tumbe kafe." Just as workers began to dig, ordnance began to emerge to the surface. They excavated over 280 unexploded bombs that were discovered in a shallow depth of less than a meter. People from Bitola realized they were walking on a minefield.
- Promenade and the town park are lying on numerous unexploded bombs and mines. There are in vast numbers and different calibers. It should not come as a surprise, since this part of Bitola, near the railway station and barracks, was an open warehouse where they kept the ordnance during World War II. Shells were stacked Around artillery nests as people stack wood for fire during winter - retired deminer and today's Commander of Bitola-fire units, Kostadin Popovski recals.
The discovery of the construction workers working on building new stands on city stadium reminded people of Bitola that the city lies on a minefield. Construction was temporarily put to a hold, deminers safely took and transported 60 artillery shells and six bombs.
- Yes, in that part of the city, where new city stadium is built, there are unexploded shells and bombs. That part of Bitola - promenade, city park, "Tumble kafe", barracks, literally lie on shells and bombs. They are most often at the depths of 1..5 meters in the ground. However, citizens should not fear because they can reach surface only if there are some construction works, as it was the case now. Massive amount of bombs was thrown on this part of Bitola, and massive amount of bombs and shells were buried in the ground after the retreat of enemy forces in World War I - said Popovski.
Despite the fact and the danger construction workers are exposed to, and also the citizens of Bitola, city authorities are still not ready to perform total demining of the city. And if they were, Bitola doesn't have enough trained people to carry out the project. The city has only one deminer, and young don't want to do this dangerous job. Similar situation is in entire Macedonia, where there are only 10 professional deminers, hired by the Direction for protection and rescue.
(Telegraf.co.uk / D.J.)