Aug. 8 (UPI) -- A large unexploded WWII-era bomb that was exposed in a dry riverbed in Italy has been safely detonated, the Italian military confirmed.
The unexploded ordnance weighed 1,000 pounds and was initially found by fishermen on the banks of a receding river in July, near the village of Borgo Virgilio. The device contained around 530 pounds of undetonated explosive inside the casing.
Large sections of the 400-mile Po River are drying up amid Italy's worst drought in 70 years. The limited rainfall and high temperatures caused shrinking river levels, causing the bomb to be exposed.
Thousands of nearby residents were evacuated ahead of the planned detonation on Sunday. Air space and river traffic were also temporarily blocked.
Specialists from the Italian military safely detonated the American-made device on the riverbank. The blast caused a massive spray of sand and dirt up into the air.
The Po is Italy's longest river, running from the French-Italian border in the Cottian Alps and heading east until it reaches the Adriatic Sea south of Venice.
The river provides irrigation water to around a third of Italian agricultural production. The country declared a state of emergency in July because of water levels.
Weather conditions, including the lack of rain, have caused the river to get so shallow, farmers are complaining that seawater is leaching in and damaging crops.