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A Ticking Time-Bomb

Mitholz or Blausee-Mitholz is a village in Kandergrund Municipality in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. The small village is full of natural beauty, as it is surrounded by mountains. Only 170 families live in this hilly village in the Swiss Alps, where the design of every house is the same. While the cattle live in the ground floor, their owners live on the first floor. Houses have been built in the same way in almost all the villages in the foothills of the Alps Mountain range. Mitholz can be an ideal destination for tourists to take a break from their busy lives and to get rid of all the worries. However, each and every villager in Mitholz lives with anxiety, fearing death at every moment. The horrific incident, which had taken place 74 years ago, still haunts the villagers!

The Swiss Army had stored about 7,000 tonnes of war ammunition beneath a small weapons depot at Mitholz during the Second World War. The Army personnel used to operate this underground arsenal, secretly. It contained huge quantities of explosives. At the end of the War in 1945, the local residents thought that they would not have to face any more explosions or shelling.

The Swiss Army

The nightmare returned to Mitholz after two years… in 1947. The entire village was rocked by explosions around midnight on December 19. The villagers, initially, thought that it was due to an earthquake. However, the scene they saw would send shivers down their spines! The village was on fire, and the residents desperately tried to flee from Mitholz in an attempt to save their lives. The fire destroyed most of the village that night. While a number of residents lost their lives, others received serious injuries. Not a single house survived the fire.

Nightmare in 1947

Later, the Government admitted that the explosion, which destroyed the village, was caused by explosives stored in the underground arsenal. According to official estimates, a part of 7,000 tonnes of explosives had exploded that night, due to reasons still unknown. In 1948, the Swiss Government declared the village safe and allowed the residents to rebuild their houses. The villagers followed the Government’s advice, as they were sure that they would face no more danger. Hence, many of them spent a lot of money, time and energy to rebuild their homes.

Once again, the Swiss Government talked about a large quantity of explosives in Mitholz in 2018. The Government has claimed that there are still around 3,500 tonnes of explosives in the secret arsenal. Bern has decided to evacuate those villages again in order to move the explosives elsewhere. Otherwise, Mitholz can well be shaken by another terrible explosion, one day!

Mitholz

Meanwhile, some of the villagers are not ready to leave Mitholz. According to the Swiss Government, it will take almost a decade to safely move the explosives, and the villagers will have to spend the decade in other places. The Government has also agreed to pay compensation for this purpose. However, some villagers are reluctant to accept the offer. They still live in the village, ignoring the risk.

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