A Travellerspoint blog


Back In The Sud

sunny 38 °C

There is something rather unsettling about walking about in minefields. It’s that whole your next step could be your last one on two legs, or even alive, kind of feeling. You know the one. It’s the kind of feeling you get after you have just sat down at the cinema to watch “The Return Of The King” or some other epic 3 day long movie, and you start to wonder if you locked the front door or not. You’re sure you did, you always do after all, but then again you can’t quite be 100% certain on that. It’s the kind of annoying feeling that makes you give up, go home, and check.


PMN Landmine uncovered and ready for demolition.

Now my job is to see to the effective and safe clearance of this kind of thing, but for me the feeling never goes away. For those who don’t yet know, I don’t clear the land myself, that would take forever. The minefield I am working in at the moment is some 19 million square meters (or 19 square kilometers which doesn’t sound nearly as impressive) and that would take me a very long time indeed. By a rough estimation I could get this cleared in about 1,000 years working non stop. Now while I am a big fan of full time employment, even I have my limits. So we employ locals to do the finding part, for economic and other reasons. People like myself are employed to plan and oversee the execution of the plan, and then deal with the items that are found. The downside of that is we have to trust that the locals are doing their jobs correctly, and sometimes all I can really trust them to do is pick their nose.

This may seem a little unfair, and for some it could be a rather mean generalisation. They are not all obsessive nose pickers after all. Some days I liken it to working with 5 year olds. They seem to have the attention span of a goldfish, the work ethic of a career local council stop/go sign holder, the resolve of the French Army in the 1900’s and the intelligence of Baldrick from Blackadder Goes Forth. These are the people I am relying on to clear the ground, the people I am relying on to keep each other safe, and the people I am relying on to find everything that has been planted in this area. Can you see where that feeling is coming from now?? Add to this the fact that the SAF seemed to be from the school of random minefield plantings, and it could make you really really nervous. As a rule when Armies are planting defensive land mines they tend to do it in an organised fashion, so you don't take out your own people which, I am reliably informed, is rather frowned upon. So lines on mines will be planted in strategic positions and diligently mapped out in order to provide safe access for those in the know, and a rather surprising time for those who you wish to keep out. The SAF and the SPLA however, tended to just scatter them randomly around the area like they were setting up for an Easter Egg hunt. There is no rhyme or reason to the laying of these fields. Some places will have a large number of mines in a small area, and others will have just one in a big field. I guess it depended on how energetic the team of planters were feeling when they went out with their box of mines. I could almost guarantee that the areas around the largest trees will be heavily contaminated, as they will have slept there all day and then quickly emptied their supply before heading back to see what is on for tea.


Spot the Landmine - There is more than one in this photo.

I am back in Sudan and it is good to be here for a few reasons. Firstly when we were in Iraq myself, Gaz and Miss Fire would reminisce about how good it was to work here. (Yes that’s how frustrating the Iraqi’s were, the Sudanese seemed positively brilliant in comparison.) So it was nice to get back here and remember just how frustrating it can be. However there was one main reason I was excited to get back. It wasn't for the beans, random meat and rice. It wasn't for the dust. It wasn't for the rubbish and random people shitting everywhere. It was because I was positively looking forward to getting a video of children breaking rocks to sell for gravel out the front of the UNICEF building in Juba. The UN is not my favourite organisation and I certainly don’t hide my opinions about them. They seem to excel at …………... well nothing really. The fact that UNICEF had children working outside their office was a great example of this. All talk and no action, that’s the UN. So I drove down to the spot and got out of the car ready to take my video and become an overnight YouTube success (and no doubt argue with the locals with regard to appearance fees) when I had to stop. For you see it seems that in this case the UN had taken some action to remedy the problem. I was impressed to say the least; maybe they are not so bad after all.

The children are still there, they certainly haven't gone away, and they are still breaking rocks to sell for gravel. The UNICEF building however had moved down the road and around the corner.

Now if that doesn’t tell you what the UN is really like then nothing will.

Posted by Dangermouse 11:42 Archived in Sudan Comments (0)

For my Narnain friend

sunny 36 °C

Leave a mark that can't erase,
Neither space nor time.

So when the director yells "cut"
I'll be fine.
I'm forever young.

I did have a few stories written for this blog, I have after all neglected to update it for a few months now. Not all through my own laziness you understand, though I do think I was suffering a bit of writers fatigue, as the last one was a bit sub standard. That coupled with the fact I had been working for 5 months straight and a rather surprising internet block in Basra, and it all adds up. 5 months straight I hear you ask, yep 5 months of 6 day weeks and at least 12 hour work days. It gets a bit tiring after a while. Luckily I got a chance to head home for a break and see my lovely wife and had a wonderful 3 weeks with her, doing nothing much more than having fun.

Life however, hardly ever goes according to plan, just ask Molly Ringwald. One minute you are well on top of things with everything running smoothly, and the next nobody has the faintest idea who you are. For me that came in the form of two messages. The first was an email I received the morning I was due to leave on a plane back to Iraq, telling me my services were no longer able to be financially supported, and the second was a message I received over Facebook from my friend Fabrice.

This post may not convey the same tone as others, as while I have a very defined view on life, it is still a bit of a shock when someone you know checks out. For me that came last week with the news that my good friend Kaido was killed in Misratah Libya while working there clearing up the UXO left over after the rebellion. The type 84 Chinese sub-munition he was working on functioned and killed him. We can only hope it was quick.

Kaido was one of the truly good blokes of the world. His death was a shock to everyone who knew him and he will be truly missed by those of us that are left. It has hit some harder than others, and these things always do. I had the fortune to be picked up for some work in South Sudan again so I was unable to attend his funeral. Luckily other close friends of his from the industry were able to go and represent those of us who wished we were there.

He was buried today in his home town in Estonia. He was 31.


So Kaido this post is for you mate.
I know you will be looking down on all this with a bit of bemusement and telling us all to stop carrying on.
I am glad I had the chance to call you a friend and, till we meet again, rest easy pal.

Posted by Dangermouse 07:16 Archived in Sudan Comments (0)

Camels have nothing on this mob.

Finally caught up, this includes the last of my time in Sudan and my R&R so far in Nepal.

Town names are always something to be proud of. Who wouldn't, for example, be proud of living in Bong Bong, Cock Wash, Dismal Swamp, Burrumbuttock, Humpty Doo, Mount Buggery, Nowhere Else, Poowong, Rooty Hill, Useless Loop, Wee Waa, Woodie Woodie, Woolloomooloo or Yorky's Knob. (These by the way are all in Australia so we really should know better). Whilst my travels through the countryside of Sudan have been quite limited by far my top three place names are Yei (pronounced Yay - like it's Christmas Yaaaaay), Wau (pronounced Wow) and the delightful Longwillie (I will let you figure out that one yourself).

I had been working in Yei for the last couple of weeks of my contract with G4S. It was actually quite nice to get out of Juba and have a better look around the countryside. The people here seem even more relaxed about things, so relaxed in fact that if they went any further they would probably just spend their whole life sleeping in a hammock. Now I didn't have a particularly bad impression of the country or its people, but this has definitely reinforced my long held suspicion that city people are a bit up tight. This is fairly accurate in nearly every country to which I have traveled, and I have been to quite a few in my time. (My lovely wife and I have a competition on who has seen more of the world and I believe that we are tied, though I'm sure she is planning some quick trips just to get ahead). But anyway it was nice to get out of town, even if it meant a rather uncomfortably hot 5 hour drive to cover the 180km. The work in Yei was far from taxing, though not without its challenges. Take the bomb for instance....

An Antinov bomb is a home made device that North Sudan used to drop out the back of Antinov planes during the war, hence the name. As the war progressed the UN started dropping food and supplies to all the refugees displaced by the fighting. They would fly over in big cargo planes to designated areas and drop the supplies out the back. This caused the people to gather at these sites at certain times in order to collect the goods. So far so good right?? Well the North, being the crafty devils they are, decided that there was an opening there for a little mayhem. So they flew their own cargo planes (Russian Antinov's) down south and either followed or flew just in front of the UN planes, who one would hope were unaware of their existence. As the locals would see the big white planes coming overhead they would gather for their goodies, only instead of food these planes dropped bombs. Homemade, lightweight, high explosive shrapnel bombs. I will let you imagine the carnage that may have followed, and the end result is that people became too afraid to come out for the plane drops any more. Starvation became a major problem after the North invented the Antinov plan. The bombs, being home made, were generally of a thin metal casing with a lot of explosive and anything else they could throw into the mix. The bomb I dealt with, for example, had reinforcing bar commonly seen in concreting. These pieces of metal then get thrown out from the explosion at an extremely rapid rate, they are red hot from the heat of the detonation and cause a lot of damage. Mayhem indeed.

Anyway my bomb was located only 200m from a newly built school. It was mostly buried when we found it so we first had to excavate to identify the UXO and locate and identify the fuse. The school was in the general blast radius for this bomb, so we had to do a lot of protective works in order to channel the blast away from the school and into open ground. For this job I also had Sven from Sweden (no not making that up) who was a logistics officer for the UN and he had asked if he could come outside and play for a day. I love these kind of people as they are always super keen to help, and appear just generally excited to be outside. I suppose I would feel the same if my entire job consisted of counting and ordering supplies. Sven, like a lot of people, was genuinely fascinated by what we do. He was also rather taken with the bomb, and I believe took a thousand pictures of it. So I protected the fuse and suggested he cold get into the pit with the device and I would take a picture he could send home to his mum. So he carefully climbed down, placed his feet exactly where I told him to, lent on the bomb and tried to look calm whilst I took his picture. I do believe that made his day, well right up to the point where I detonated it and gave him a piece of shrapnel for a present. The school was unaffected by the blast, which was fortunate as there was a lot of people taking cover in there, including Sven, and it would have looked awfully bad on my CV had I messed that one up.


Antinov Bomb 100kg.


Me in the crater after the successful detonation.

I have been in Nepal for the last 2 weeks now. My contract ended in Sudan for the rainy season and I am taking a well deserved break. My wife is in Nepal working in health so I met up with her here. This is my first time in Nepal and it is quite a charming little country, they have more mountains and culture than you can poke a stick at, and are a very friendly open group of people. The driving here is even more chaotic than just about anywhere else I have been. In fact if I described the Sudanese as treating it like an arcade game then the Nepalese drive like it is an extreme sport. There appears to be no give way rule in force that I can ascertain and car horns are sounded continually at an average of every 3-5 seconds. It would not surprise me in the least to find that they are actually hooked up to the fuel pump and required to be tooted continually to keep the vehicles moving. They have a rather insane approach to driving and will not think twice before hurling themselves at full speed into an already obviously packed main road in the belief that there must be room for them somewhere. They drive with a kind of blind fanaticism that would make a World War II Japanese Kamikaze pilot shy away. It's not the Maoists or pickpockets that you need to worry about in this country, it's the drivers. In fact the only thing on the roads that anyone pays attention to are the cows. It is an offence to injure or kill a cow here, and the penalty includes gaol time, so they are given a wide berth indeed. In fact they are also the only thing on the road that is not given a good blaring of the horn. It's good to be a cow in Nepal.

There is one aspect of this country that bugs me though, just enough to be annoying. Spitting. I'm not talking about the occasional clearing of the throat, or the "my god I just coughed up something gross I better gid rid of it" spit, but the dedicated and constant type of spitter, like anyone who chews tobacco. There is nothing subtle about it either, it is usually preceded by a long process of hacking noises, and that deep gutteral sound as you attempt to draw every last bit of phlegm from out of your sinuses, before spitting loudly and clearly. Nor do they attempt to release the projectile into a shrub or gutter, the preferred target seems to be about 5 meters directly in front of them, which means that if you are walking towards the imminent release of this wad, anywhere from your knees down seems to be in the target area. Thankfully they do not seem to spit up, this however does not really make it any better. One must also be careful when walking past a shop front in case a phlegm missile is launched from within the confines of the doorway and collects you around the cheek.

In fact the only place you are safe from the spitting is on the road, but then you have to deal with the kamikaze drivers. Perhaps I should ride a cow around??

Posted by Dangermouse 02:41 Archived in Sudan Comments (0)

Unexpected explosions

Originally written in May 2011.

Have you ever been handed something quite dangerous?? I’m sure that at some point in our live our well-meaning friends and associates have managed to ask us to take possession of something they would rather not be holding onto themselves. Lit firecrackers, running chainsaws, electrical leads, loaded guns, dirty nappies etc. Maybe even the extraordinarily nice chap at customs in Thailand who asks if you could please run his rather heavy carry-on bag through the screening process while he nips off to the loo. Well in my line of work this can sometimes happen too. The trouble is what to do about it when it does occur.

Our obviously preferred method of being introduced to ordnance is for the local population to leave it safely where it is and then lead us to its location. This is much better all-round as it gives us a chance to investigate the offending item in relative safety before deciding what to do with it. Our least preferred method is when people attempt to physically hand you something they have just proudly fetched for you. This generally goes one of two ways;
Firstly you take the item off them, trying to act as nonchalantly as possible, before requesting that everybody please take cover at a suitable distance as you attempt to place the object back onto the ground whilst keeping your arm attached to your body. Sub-munitions are wonderful for this, as they are notoriously unstable and generally not a good idea to be carrying about your person.
The other way of course is to let the person carrying the item know that you think it’s dangerous. This can be achieved in a number of ways, by simply looking in horror at what he is doing to running away and diving for cover behind the nearest solid object. The offending person, now realising he is holding something he shouldn’t be, tends to then do one of two things. Try and throw the item away, or just drop it at his / your feet. Option two generally ends badly for somebody, and often for more than one person at a time.
Although being led to the site of explosive ordnance can have its drawbacks as well. Some people have the rather suicidal habit of walking into the middle of minefields in order to show somebody where it is. The most dreaded reply you can hear to the inquiry of “So where is this minefield mate??” is to be told, quite matter of factly;
“It’s all around you!”

This is how one of our operators, Aldo, lost his leg. Upon hearing this fateful reply he took “nought but a half step backwards”, in his account, and BANG. His colleague upon hearing the explosion took a pace forward in reflex to help and BANG.

Now you can imagine I’m sure the shock of losing the lower half of your leg. If you make a habit of playing with chainsaws you may even have firsthand experience. Fortunately adrenalin is a wonderful substance and can keep your body functioning long enough to get away from your immediate danger. This is how soldiers can continue to engage the enemy after being shot or quite seriously injured. The unfortunate thing about adrenalin is that it doesn’t last that long, which is why the afore mentioned soldier tends to collapse and die after extracting himself from the dangerous area. Aldo, noticing his mate wasn’t moving and his guide was nowhere to be seen, spent the next 2-3 excruciating hours carefully crawling his way back to his vehicle using his fingers to probe the ground for mines. I dare anyone, anyone, to go take off the lower part of a leg and then perform this kind of feat in a live minefield. Go on, I can wait……………………….
So for those of you not stupid enough to do this at home I hope you can appreciate the lengths this man went to. He made it back to his vehicle, called for assistance and stayed with it long enough for help to arrive before allowing himself the luxury of passing out from shock and blood loss. Aron Ralston would have an idea of what this could be like, for the rest of us….
The end result, well both EOD techs lived and are still operating. As for the guide, well upon hearing the two explosions he ran for home, at top speed, and stayed there without telling anyone what had happened. He basically tried to kill them twice, though did somehow manage to run through a minefield unharmed.

So why bring this story up now, well I think it’s time for a gruesome week as mine turned rather sour. We had been moving along quite nicely, in fact we had reached that happy stage where everything was happening as it should, the teams were doing everything exactly right and we were making excellent progress. Gaz had joined us by now. Gaz is an extremely likable man from the UK who was new to G4S in Sudan. Gaz had been employed only to find out there was no team for him to lead which meant he was seconded to me. (He had been with my team for a couple of weeks and was beginning to find his feet, though this is awfully hard to do when you are playing with someone else’s team). I had just finished giving the morning brief for the demolitions serials we were to conduct that day. As the team left the briefing area ready to disperse to their sentry positions, BANG.

An explosion that you are not prepared for can come as quite a shock at first. Chris, Gaz and I looked at each other, located the emerging cloud from the nearby explosion and hopped into a vehicle and rushed to the site. The medics and deminers were told to call our HQ and follow us. When we arrived a gaggle of Sudanese had already mustered at the site but there was nobody doing anything except standing around. After forcing my way through the throng I found a man lying on the ground. He had been hand ploughing the surrounding area and, to be honest, my initial impressions were that he was dead. So I knelt down next to him in order to confirm this. I could see no movement, felt no pulse and was getting fairly certain of my initial evaluation when he suddenly coughed and moaned. Now I am no doctor, nor do I have anything except advanced first aid medical training, but I am fairly certain that dead men don’t cough, nor do they moan, nor do they try and get up. So unless he was a zombie (which I highly doubted as I have never heard of zombies getting into agriculture) he was alive, and in a fair bit of trouble.

The young man in question had been digging in our danger area, something we had asked people not to do a number of times. Do you remember how your mum taught you that sticking forks into electrical sockets was dangerous?? Did you listen or did you have to wait until you ended up across the room, still slightly tingling with a hairdo that would make those amusingly extremely racist black and white minstrel show performers jealous?? The Sudanese I had met so far generally ended up in the latter category. The poor man had managed to function what we believe was an RPG. The effect of this was that he had nearly blown off both legs (they were being held together by his tendons), was missing his right hand, had shrapnel wounds through his torso and jaw, and had a sucking chest wound. All in all not a pretty site, and it was now our job to try and get him to hospital fast. I won’t go into the details of what we did to try and patch him up, all I will say is that it involved tourniquets, attempting to hold his legs together while we turned him over, lots of blood and very little help from the locals.

An interesting observation from all this was to witness the reactions from my deminers and medics. Shock is powerful, so is the fight or flight response. Some people will just move into action, start working and get on with it. Others will stand still as if in a trance. You never know what your response will be and I would never judge anyone on their reaction. At one point I asked one of my team to kneel next to this poor mans head and just talk to him, tell him he would be alright. He managed to kneel but couldn’t talk, he just stared. So I moved him on and got someone else to do it instead. It’s not a weakness, just a reaction – especially seeing something like this the first time. (Not that it would have made a lot of difference as he was bleeding from both ears and I am fairly certain had blown both his eardrums.) The only person that concerned me was Chris’ medic. Gaz had to drag her out of the ambulance and make her come over and help. This was concerning as she was supposed to be the one who would help anyone on Chris’ team if they were unfortunate and had an accident like this. Demining accidents are never pretty and you have to be very fortunate to keep everything intact. It was, in our view, a major flaw and not how a medic in this line of work should behave.

The aftermath, well he was never going to go hiking again, and I really hope he was left handed (have you ever tried brushing your teeth with the opposite hand?? Give it a go). Insensitive – sure. True – absolutely. Sometimes the two observations go hand in hand. As with most accidents in my line of work this one ended badly, though maybe fortunately so. The man in question died in hospital. The facility we took him to just wasn’t equipped to deal with trauma that severe and he bled out. We think, though can’t prove, that they just released the tourniquets and let him go. Why do we think this?? Well Chris had to go back to the hospital to retrieve our stretcher and the body was still on it. He hadn’t even made it close to an operating theatre. So why would I call this this death fortunate?? Well the future for a deaf man in Sudan with no legs and no right hand would be very bleak indeed.

The moral to this tale is that if you are told something is dangerous, it probably is. Some things you can’t mess with and explosives are one of them. If, during your travels, you find yourself in a country that has UXO or landmines then steer clear of those areas, and pay attention to the warning signs. It’s not brave and it’s not cool to mess with UXO, just stupid, and if it goes wrong it never ends well.

Posted by Dangermouse 03:40 Archived in Sudan Comments (0)

If at first you don't succeed then skydiving is not for you.

Written in June 2011

The Vice President’s wife or, more to the point, one of the Vice Presidents wives owns a plot of land out the back of Juba. Well owns may be a bit of a stretch, as it appears that all someone in the Government has to do is declare a piece of land his and it is so. Who said running a military dictatorship doesn’t have its perks?? South Sudan might be running under the illusion of a freely elected leadership; however the ruling party are all Military Officers and tend to govern in this manner. Want to travel from your rather large compound to the airport?? No worries just get the army to close all the roads so you can get there without all the hassle of traffic. To be fair though they have just come through 20 odd years of war and the mistrust runs very deep here, so I guess a little healthy paranoia can be excusable.

Speaking of the Army closing roads I had a rather fun encounter with this. I had left my accommodation in order to get to the office to pay my deminers. After driving through at least 5 intersections I started to take notice that there were an awful lot of soldiers out this particular morning, far more than usual. I barely had time to ponder the reasons for this increase in activity when I was abruptly stopped at the next intersection. Normally I will drive through such things with a casual wave and an “It’s all right mate, I’m Australian.” however this particular soldier seemed a little more aggressive than usual and was actually pointing his AK-47 (they actually use the rather less robust Chinese rip-off but nobody knows that one) at me.
“Go back!” I was told rather sternly.
“I’m trying to get to work mate, what’s going on??” I enquired rather politely. Nothing brings out the polite in me like having the wrong end of a weapon pointed in my direction.
“Go back!” came the reply, a little more forcefully this time.

I wasn’t really expecting a lucid response. Most of the Sudanese in the lower ranks of the Army don’t speak English and as my Sudanese Arabic is limited to “Hello, thank you, good morning, how are you, stop and white man” I felt that the conversation could deteriorate quite rapidly. So I turned my vehicle around and started heading back to my accommodation. This was where I ran into problems, as the 5 or so intersections I had travelled through before without trouble were now all closed and manned by rather pissed off looking soldiers.

“Go back!” I was told, once I reached the next checkpoint. I tried crudely explaining that the soldier at the checkpoint 50m behind me had told me that exact same thing and I was now trying to get back home like a good boy.
“Go back!”, again a little more menacing this time. Juniour ranking soldiers rarely know what is going on, especially in this part of the world and I am sure they had been told that nobody was to come through their particular intersection, no matter what. So I turned around and went back to the first soldier I encountered.

“Go back!” only this time rather pissed off. I tried explaining my predicament in the only way westerners know how to talk to people that don’t converse in English. By speaking slower, louder and using rather amusing but pointless hand gestures.
“Go back!” so I did. In fact I parked half way between the two checkpoints and started to ponder my next move. I was just considering taking a quick nap in the car until whatever the hell the road was closed for had finished happening when there was a tap on my window.

“You can’t stay here, move!” once again reinforced by pointing a gun at me. I would be quite happy to oblige these people without the threat of having part of my head removed by a high velocity bullet, but it obviously gets the job done because people rarely argue. So I was now stuck between two checkpoints and not allowed to sit in the middle. This I felt would need drastic action so I headed back towards my accommodation again, reached the checkpoint and got out of the car.

If you are ever in South Sudan and get stopped at a randomly set up checkpoint manned by pissed off soldiers in the early morning, my advice to you is to stay in the vehicle. I swear these boys reacted as if I had just rolled out of my window and started popping caps into asses like a Bruce Willis movie. It was time, I felt, to turn on the charm.
“It’s all right mate, I’m Australian. I just need to get back to my accommodation and we can put this whole mess behind us.” I said, with my best I’m really not here to mess you up smile plastered across my face and my hands raised. I then squatted down, ignored the ever increasing number of weapons and shouting Sudanese surrounding me and tried drawing a map in the dirt to explain my dilemma. Fortunately an Officer was amongst this group and wandered over casually with a rather large grin on his face.
“Good morning” he said in flawless English “You are not allowed to pass through the checkpoints. You need to stay in your house”.
“That’s great mate” I replied, thankful to talk to the only person who wasn’t actively wondering if they would get into trouble, or a promotion, for shooting me in the line of duty. “But I am trying to get back to my house now. I just need to get there and I’ll stay put I promise.”
“Where are you staying” he inquired.
“The Bedouins, it’s just down the road on the corner.”
“OK my friend, you may pass through, please hurry and have a nice day.”
So I was through, I was really happy with this outcome until I hit the next checkpoint a further 50m down the road,
“Go back!”

I took my the best part of an hour to travel the 250m back to where I was staying, I ended up going back to the Officer who had let me through the first time and asking him to help me to get the rest of the way back. He found this quite funny and was rather enjoying being the man who helped the stupid white boy get home. I bought him a beer for that one. And the reason for the road closure?? They wanted to search all the foreigners in town to make sure we didn’t have any weapons on us. As I said the mistrust runs rather deep between North and South Sudan and the government was worried that the North had planted a western assassin in town to take out key party members during the independence celebrations.

Any way this plot of land owned by the Vice President’s wife was being used as cultivated land. She had decided she would spend some time planting different crops to see what would work best for this part of the world. This is actually a commendably sensible approach to agriculture and one that should be taken up everywhere. I have never been able to understand why they plant rice in Australia, for example, the driest continent on Earth.

So things were going along swimmingly until the tractor being used to plough the field struck and detonated an Anti-Tank Mine. These are the bigger cousins to the Landmine and operate on the same principle. When enough pressure is exerted onto either the pressure plate or tilt rod, the device functions and creates all kinds of mayhem to the unlucky vehicle currently attempting to traverse its position. Now these mines are designed to take out and disable tanks and other heavily armoured vehicles, so you can imagine the damage it would do to a tractor. (Incidentally it takes about 95kg of pressure to activate some AT mines so if you are a heavy individual, or are carrying a rather large pack then you could be in for a bad day). This particular driver was incredibly lucky in that the front wheel of the tractor functioned the mine, so the majority of the blast was taken by the engine. He managed to live, and keep all his parts intact, but I have no idea just what state he got to hospital in. I was then tasked with destroying another AT mine that was uncovered but hadn’t functioned. Normally we would defuse these and keep then for their excellent explosive fill found on the insides, however we had been told to destroy it. So I wandered out, fitted my charge, came back to a safe area and made it disappear in a rapidly expanding ball of destruction. Nice and easy.

We later found out the reason why we needed to destroy this particular mine. For it seems they were hell bent on proceeding with the ploughing of this land before the rains really kicked in. The only minor inconvenience they were encountering was these pesky AT mines. As we had discovered two of them in a line we could safely assume that there was a line of AT mines in this particular patch of ground. (I am sure I have told you before, but my job is not rocket science!) We therefore wanted to start doing some exploring to ascertain if there was any more threat to the local population in this field. As this was going to delay the ladies plans, they put another tractor into the field in order to continue ploughing whilst we weren’t there. This second tractor however was not so lucky and detonated a mine with his back wheel. This caused the explosion to travel up through the seat on which the driver was sitting and scatter parts of him over a rather large area. This second tractor was discovered the next day by Uran who had been given the job of investigating the area.

Now while the clean-up of this job was less than fun, the local authorities were far more concerned with retrieving the remains of the tractor and continuing with the work. It was pointed out that now they had lost two tractors and one man that maybe they should put a halt to proceedings until Uran could declare the area safe.
“No way” came the reply. “There are only 6 mines in this area and we have already found three so it is safe. We must keep working.” It took high level meetings to convince the VP’s wife to put a halt to things. She was convinced that no more accidents would happen and that she should be allowed to continue. I believe Derek suggested that if she was that confident perhaps she could drive the next tractor through the field. She relented at that.

Russian TM-46 Anti-Tank Mine

What happens when you drive a tractor over one.

At the last count I think Uran had found 26 AT mines in that area. All destroyed in a big explosion to prove a point to the locals.
This shit is dangerous.

Posted by Dangermouse 02:16 Archived in Sudan Comments (0)

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