‘Everybody was running this way and that,’ a nursery school worker said. ‘People are leaving with their TVs and stereos because they are afraid of looting.’

Some 15,000 people living around the First World War battlefield of Vimy were forced to leave their homes after a huge dump of Great War ammunition started leaking waves of deadly mustard gas. The Vimy dump is where army engineers store much of the 500 tonnes of rusting First and Second World War ammunition recovered every year in France. The holding area on farmland is unguarded and protected only by a barbed wire fence.

Local people have repeatedly expressed concern over the dangers and the frequent thefts by souvenir hunters. Yesterday, about 3,500 firemen, police and soldiers, including 50 bomb disposal experts, were drafted into the area, which 500,000 people visit each year.

On the same day 10,000 people were ferried out of the centre of Lorient following the discovery of a booby trapped 500lb second world war British bomb.
13 April 2001