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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Enter the Dragon: new mine disposal 'flare' on trial

Enter the Dragon: new mine disposal 'flare' on trial

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De-miners generally use bombs to get rid of bombs.

De-miners generally use bombs to get rid of bombs.

"Typically we use explosives and, once the mine is destroyed, we go back to

clear the area," said Rupert Leighton, country program manager for Mines Advisory

Group Cambodia (MAG).

This may soon change.

MAG, working with UK specialists, will begin Cambodian trials of a new de-mining

device in May.

The instrument, codenamed "Dragon", uses a high-temperature flare to burn

out mines without causing them to explode.

"It fills a niche market, where there might be a mine you don't want to blow

up because it's near a house or a school," Leighton said.

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

It was created by de-mining specialists Disarmco, along with arms experts at Cranfield

University at Shrivenham.

The Dragon's inventors claim the device is safer than other de-mining methods and

does less damage to the environment.

Tests conducted in Lebanon during 2004 yielded "positive results," Leighton

said.

He said that de-mining experts would first conduct Cambodian tests in a controlled

environment and then move to the field.

Once these two phases are over, MAG and Disarmco will most likely hold an event geared

toward publicizing the Dragon.

Landmines kill 8,000 people internationally every year, and maim or seriously injure

another 20,000, 25 percent of them children, according to the Dragon's inventors.

Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

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