Quake leaves residents vulnerable to landmines (India ' Pakistan)

The Indian Red Cross and other groups have warned that thousands of landmines planted on the Indo-Pak border may have shifted after the October 8 earthquake.


NGOs operating in the region are concerned that people living close to the Line of Control (LoC) may be in danger.

"Earthquakes are known to dislodge mines. Army maps can be of little use, and we are worried about the civilians and the cattle," said N K Singh of the Indian Red Cross Society.

Serious threat

The Army is trying to play down such concerns, saying many of the mines are beyond Indian defence lines.

But experts say the risk from anti-insurgency mines in areas like Uri cannot be overlooked, as warning systems may have got dislodged.

"A lot can happen during earthquakes. Not only can the mines shift, the safe corridors can also get destroyed and markers can get lost. These can have dangerous results," said Boris Cerina, Regional Mine Action Advisor, ICRC.

Damage to fencing

The shifting of mines due to landslides and bad weather has affected civilians living in the upper reaches of the mountains earlier as well. But this time, it's the soldiers involved in evacuation and relief efforts at the forward posts who may be at the most risk.

Another concern for the Army after the earthquake is the damage to the fencing along the LoC at several points.

The Defence Ministry has confirmed that repairs on the damaged sections can begin only by next year.

The Army will clearly have to grapple with such concerns for days to come, even as the relief operations for the quake survivors continue.

Von: 21 October 2005 http://www.ndtv.com by Rahul Shrivastava

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