War photos site hamstrung by demand

A Web site showcasing more than 5 million aerial photos of World War II experienced patchy availability during its first day live

A Web site that claims to contain more than 5 million detailed aerial photos of major events during World War II was crippled by demand on its first day.

EvidenceinCamera.co.uk is being run by the University of Keele Library and features some of the most harrowing and momentous events from the conflict, available for the public to see for the first time.

Among the gruesome images captured are aerial shots of Auschwitz concentration camp and pictures of the US landings on Omaha beach.

The pictures, which pilots risked their lives to take, often flying at very low altitudes, are so detailed that it is possible to make out stricken bodies floating in the surf.

Allan William, head of the Evidence in Camera project, told Reuters: "These images allow us to see the real war at first hand. It is like a live-action replay. They were declassified years ago, but it takes days to find an individual image. Now they have been digitised and will be on the Internet, it takes seconds."

While morbid fascination may play a part in the high numbers of visitors that the site is attracting, the historical significance of photos, such as the one betraying the location of the Bismarck prior to its sinking, will also be a major factor.

However, many surfers attempting to access the site on Monday were left disappointed, seeing nothing but error messages.

The site's popularity echoes that of the much-publicised census site, which was largely unavailable during the days and weeks after its launch. Eventually, as an emergency measure, the site was pulled down indefinitely as demand made it impossible to access.