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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Landmine clearer goes into action
Minelifta in action
The new device will go into action in Mozambique
A machine designed to help clear large areas of anti-personnel landmines has been unveiled.

Sheffield engineer Robert Kirk, 42, mortgaged his home to finance the prototype Corus Minelifta, which he says can clear landmines from areas the size of two three football pitches each day.

It is expected to go into immediate action in Mozambique.

There are an estimated 110 million unexploded landmines in war zones across 64 countries around the globe.

Some of the worst affected countries include Vietnam, Angola, Bosnia, Kosova and El Salvador.

Nick Kirk with Martin Bell
Nick Kirk, left, with Martin Bell MP and the Minelifta

Landmines claim the lives of 26,000 people every year and injure hundreds of thousands more people.

Anti-landmine campaigner Martin Bell MP, who attended the launch, said he hoped the invention would "help bring a swift end to such suffering".

The Corus Minelifta was put through a trial at the UK Government's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency's (DERA) Longcross test track near Virginia Water, Surrey.

It works by ploughing or pulverising mines in its wake, leaving a ridge of material behind which is examined to ensure the minefield is cleared completely of explosives.

The device is usually mounted on the front of an earthmover and is reinforced against explosions.

The prototype was taken on by steel company Corus, which built it into a commercial machine.

Minelifta has been funded by the Department for International Development (DfID) and is estimated to clear anti-personnel landmines at a rate equivalent of 20 large manual teams, at one-tenth of the cost.

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See also:

04 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Vietnam vets launch anti-mine scheme
31 Jul 98 | UK Politics
Landmine facts and figures
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