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WWII ammunition found in forest in popular tourist locality

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Breclav, South Moravia, Aug 18 (CTK) – Bomb-disposal experts have found more than 800 rounds of ammunition from the Muna factory that exploded after WWII in a forest between Breclav and Valtice, which is a popular tourist destination, police bomb-disposal service chief Michal Dlouhy has said.

The locality is dangerous to visitors.

Police officers in cooperation with a private firm have been working in the area since November 2015. At present, they are completing the second phase of the ammunition clearance.

They plan ten phases in up to ten years to clear 500 hectares of the forest.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (both Social Democrats, CSSD) visited the Bori Forest to watch the search for the wartime ammunition on Thursday.

It seems that the area might be cleared earlier than planned, in up to seven years, Chovanec said.

Bomb-disposal experts have been operating there for two years.

Sobotka told reporters that the forest lay in an attractive locality near the UNESCO-listed Lednice-Valtice complex visited by many tourists and that strolling there might threaten their health.

The Lesy Ceske republiky state forestry company will pay some 50 million crowns for the clearance of the area. There are still thousands of ammunition rounds in the forest.

About 300 rounds of ammunition were found in the second phase, Dlouhy said. However, bomb-disposal experts are moving from the peripheries towards the epicentre of the former ammunition factory and this is why they expect to find considerably more rounds of ammunition during next phases, he added.

About a half of the found ammunition rounds were disposed in a nearby hole, nothing had to be disposed directly on the spot yet, Dlouhy said.

People reported ammunition found in the forest in 30 cases.

“The ammunition is fully active and everyone must realise this. We do not know exactly what types of ammunition are there since the factory was taking material from the whole Europe. There is Romanian, Hungarian, Belgian and British ammunition, the range is wide,” Dlouhy added.

Several people died in this forest in the past, including one child.

Daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Friday that wartime ammunition has killed six people in the forest, most recently in the spring of 2016. A man from Breclav brought a five-centimetre long missile home that exploded in his hand. He succumbed to the injuries later, the paper adds.

The Nazis were running the Muna ammunition-making factory in the Bori Forest during World War Two. After the liberation of the country, the Soviet army decided to destroy the factory and blew it up. The explosion scattered thousands of ammunition rounds over a 750-hectare area.

Some 250 hectares were cleared in 1992-2003 when some 23,000 rounds of ammunition were found.

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