A Swiss Village Has to Evacuate Due to WWII Ammo Dump

Residents of the Swiss village of Mitholz have to find new homes, so authorities can clean up a crumbling ammunition depot filled with tons of explosives. About 170 people live in the village.

It could take a decade to remove the weapons stockpile, according to Swiss officials. The depot was built in World War II inside a mountain in the village, which is about an hour south of Bern.

In 1947, about 7,000 tons of explosives detonated in the underground depot, killing nine people and causing heavy damage to the village. Part of the facility was rebuilt, and for decades people thought it was safe.

But a 2018 risk assessment found the depot is more dangerous than originally thought. An estimated 3,500 tons of ammunition is still there, and the cleanup will cost more than one billion dollars.

The government plans to buy residents’ homes and property and provide support. The cleanup won’t begin until 2031 due to the amount of preparation needed before work can start.

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