the sea terror, the landmine horror
By Chris Kamalendran
The Government and the LTTE have issued warnings
to people in the tsunami-devastated north and east to take necessary
precautions to protect them from hundreds of landmines, which are
believed to have been uprooted and carried to residential areas
by Sunday's terror waves.
Divisional Secretariat office at Kuchchaveli in the Trincomalee
district has been shifted to the Nilaweli Pradeshiya Sabha premises
after protests from residents who fear that mines planted to protect
a nearby army camp might have surfaced and been carried to civilian
the highly-populated eastern Kalladi area, according to a government
release, about 51 landmines have been detected and defused by the
Army. Some 65 families in Kalladi have been warned not to return
to their houses until the area is cleared of mines and declared
mines have also been found in some LTTE-controlled areas which had
been cleared of landmines by the international demining teams and
the LTTE's eastern leader, Kaushalyan, has issued a warning to the
people, asking them to take necessary precautions.
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) appealed to other relief
organizations not to be daunted by the mine threat and not to delay
relief coming to the most needed areas.
the wake of the new danger facing the survivors of the worst-ever
catastrophe to hit the nation, international landmine clearing teams
have sent out messages to their staff, who have gone on holiday,
to return immediately to Sri Lanka to tackle the new threat.
UK-based Mine Advisory Group, which is involved in mine-clearing
work in the Batticaloa district, said it was working closely with
the army to detect the mines that were washed away to civilian areas.
are visiting centres, where the displaced people are housed, and
conducing awareness campaigns about the possible mine threat. We
are distributing leaflets and making loud-hailer announcements,
warning the public of the threat," a spokesman for the organisation
said they were planning to visit Kalkudah camp to make an assessment
of the threat. Additional Government Agent for Trincomalee, N. Singarayar
said an urgent meeting was convened on Thursday night and Danish
mine experts who attended the meeting had assured that they would
undertake urgent demining work before allowing the residents to
return to their homes.
Singarayar said Padavi-Sripura, Kuchchaveli and Sampur had been
identified as areas where the mine threat loomed large. Jaffna Government
Agent Chelliah Pathmanathan said Velvettithurai West, Thaliyady,
Marathankerny, Manalkadu, Chempianpattu and parts of Thenmarachchi
were danger areas where mines have been dislodged.
said the mine threat had impeded relief operations, but the Army
and the LTTE were extending their fullest cooperation to eliminate
the danger and facilitate relief work.
UNDP,one of the organisations funding the demining programme, told
The Sunday Times it had sought a report from its field officers
on the mine threat. The mine threat has caused ripples in the already-devastated
and shaken tourism industry. Tourist Board Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara
accused some foreign media of blowing up the threat. He said he
had received no reports that mines have been detected in tourism
areas in the east.
am not saying that there is no risk of land mines in the east. But
some reports have given an impression that these land mines are
in tourist areas and that foreigners face a high degree of risk,"
Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation & Reconciliation in a statement
said not many landmines had been dislodged but gave details of places
where mines had been detected.
said only around fifty-one land mines had been found outside the
Army Camp in Kallady and action had been taken to protect civilians.
statement, however, said a few mines had been washed away in the
Batticaloa, Jaffna and Mullaitivu Districts. In Batticaloa, the
areas surrounding the Army camps in Kallady and Kalkudah are said
to be potential shift areas.
Jaffna, two mines are said to have shifted near the Point Pedro
area. The UNDP Technical Advisor for the area, however, had reportedly
said that there is no more danger of mines shifting. In the Mullaitivu
District mines have reportedly shifted in two more remote unpopulated
Ministry statement also said that the government which managed the
Mine Action Programme had taken action to prevent mine accidents.