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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March, 2005, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
British build anti-landmine tool
Chris Rennick with Dragons
Mine-clearer Chris Rennick welcomes the new devices
British experts have teamed up to design a new anti-landmine device - called Dragon - to deal with millions of hidden explosive devices.

The device has been built by disarmament specialists Disarmco with the help of arms experts at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire.

The high-temperature flare burns mines without causing them to explode.

A demonstration of the Dragon will take place at the Defence Academy of the UK in Oxfordshire on Tuesday.

A portable facility to make Dragons has been produced to use in the field.

The Dragon can be placed next to the mine or attached to wire above it.

By burning rather than exploding the device, its inventors say, it is safer and does not cause contamination of the ground.

'More effective'

The device is said to be cheaper, quicker and more effective than most other alternatives.

Dragons were tested in Lebanon in 2004, and in May this year de-mining teams will use them in Cambodia, one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world.

The project has been sponsored by the Department for International Development.

Professor Ian Wallace, Head of Cranfield University's Department of Environmental and Ordnance Systems, said: "Working with the Disarmco team, we've created a new formulation based on low cost materials which are readily available around the world.

"Local communities - with little training - can use the portable production unit to manufacture the thousands of Dragons required to deal with landmines and un-exploded ordnance (UXOs)," he said.

The Dragon will be used to destroy landmines 'quickly and cheaply'

Disarmco director Christopher Le Hardy said: "Burning is a more effective and scientifically safer way to dispose of certain types of landmines and UXOs compared to high explosives which are inherently more dangerous."

Landmines kill 8,000 people a year, and maim or seriously wound another 20,000, 25% of them children, the inventors have said.

Chris Rennick, a mine-clearing expert who lost a leg clearing mines in Kuwait in 1992, welcomed the creation of the device.

"Dragon would have a significant role to play around the world in making it safer for locals to be better equipped in the disposal of anti-personnel landmines," he said.

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