Members of a Cambodian demining unit working with the UN in Nicosia's Mammari area have found an anti-tank mine believed to have washed into the buffer zone from Turkish occupied north during heavy rainfall.
Speaking to journalists during a site visit to the Mammari Mine Hazard Area yesterday, United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Chief of Staff Colonel Angus Loudon said heavy rainfall in October 2012 caused flooding on the northern side of the buffer zone which may have washed several mines into the south.
"As the area is used for agricultural purposes it was important to establish whether there was a threat and then deal with that threat."
He confirmed that the area has now been fenced off with barbed wire while warning signs have also been erected as a precaution.
"Every step has been taken to ensure the safety of anyone who could be in the area."
Loudon added that the team of 21 deminers from Cambodia started work last week and are about one quarter of the way through the project.
"Our time here has been well spent as one mine was found in the suspected hazard area. Once the area is completely cleared it can return it to its normal usage." He added that there are still four minefields inside the compounds of the buffer zone which UNFICYP does not have authorisation to clear.
One of the minefields is in the Dherynia area of Famagusta while the other three are in Louroutzina.
Site Supervisor Lieutenant Suon Sutharith confirmed that the project is expected to be completed by May 24.
"In the last 10 days that the unit has been working it has cleared 1994 square metres," he noted.
According to UNFICYP, demining teams have so far destroyed over 25,000 landmines laid by military forces in 1974 across the 180-kilometre-long buffer zone.