Army centre clears 200 landmines

Army centre clears 200 landmines

Chumphon: More than 200 landmines have been cleared from an old battleground near the Thai-Myanmar border in this southern province, according to the army’s Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC).

The 6.6 square kilometre area in Tha Sae district was marked as a possible landmine zone as it was the site of battles between ethnic insurgents and Myanmar troops, said TMAC chief Wisut Uthitwattana.

The TMAC yesterday led members of the press for a tour to present the centre’s landmine clearance results. The TMAC has received funds from the Norwegian People’s Aid since 2001 to survey the battleground and remove landmines.

The TMAC’s land survey has found 3.46 sq/km, over half of the area, landmine-free, and 3.17 sq/km a “dangerous area” (DA) for landmines.

During the past few years, TMAC has surveyed the DA area to make risk assessments and remove landmines.

“We classify land into three zones. First is landmine-intensive, second is a high slope that is less risk, and third is relatively free area such as hunting tracks and farmland that we plan to return to villagers for farming after we make sure the area is safe,” he said yesterday.

Information from a land survey last year found there are three landmine-intensive areas — almost 60,000 sq/m in total — from which more than 200 landmines have been removed. The TMAC will continue surveying the area.

The first spot is “Nern Mamuang” of 27,580 sq/m. TMAC last year cleared 106 mines and 157 munitions.

Second is “Nern 491” of 12,688 sq/m, where 70 landmines and 21 large-sized munitions were cleared.

Third is “Karen Base” of 15,690 sq/m where 42 landmines and four munitions were removed. All large-sized ordinances will be destroyed at Saha Thai Palm Oil Plantation on March 24.

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