Five Emergency Services Workers Killed While Demining Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast

Denys Glushko - 17 March 2024 | 23:33

KHARKIV OBLAST, UKRAINE, March 17 – Five Ukrainian emergency workers have been killed by mine explosions while demining Kharkiv Oblast since the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, said Yevhen Vasylenko, spokesman for the Kharkiv Oblast State Emergency Service.

“All of them were performing demining tasks in the liberated territories of Kharkiv Oblast. 35 deminers sustained injuries of varying severity,” a State Emergency Service representative commented to Gwara Media.

Ukraine is currently one of the most mined countries in the world. Due to the full-scale invasion of the country, more than 1/4 of Ukraine’s territory is potentially affected by explosives. Defense forces, State Emergency Service deminers and mine action operators are working on demining.

The primary efforts are focused on clearing explosive ordnance from settlements, transportation routes, public lands, critical infrastructure facilities, and power lines in the liberated territories of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Donetsk regions.

Kharkiv Oblast is one of the most heavily mined regions of Ukraine. As of March 14, 2024, sappers defused 166,223 explosive devices on the region’s territory, having surveyed 9,580 hectares.

Among the most dangerous communities due to mining are the borderline hromadas (communities) of Vovchansk, Vilkhuvata, Petropavlivka, and Borova. In March 2024, sappers will begin testing an active-drive demining machine.

Mine explosions killed 277 civilians, including 14 children in Ukraine over two years of war as of February 29, 2024, said Serhiy Reva, head of the humanitarian demining department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (DSNS), during a press briefing at the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform, Gwara Media reported.

“Unfortunately, the war leaves its trace and we have civilian casualties as a result of mines and other explosive devices. According to the Ministry of Defense, since the beginning of the war, more than 200 people have been killed by mines and other explosive devices, including, sadly, 14 children. More than 600 people have been injured, including 74 children,” says the head of the humanitarian demining department of the State Emergency Service.

On February 27 at 3 p.m. in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, a 42-year-old man exploded on a mine, preliminarily a PFM-1 “Petal”. According to him, the victim exploded while cleaning his garden. He was taken to a medical facility with injuries.

Anti-personnel mine PFM-1 / Photo: Denys Glushko, Gwara Media

The PFM-1 (anti-personnel landmine) ’Petal’ is a Soviet-made anti-personnel landmine of pressure action. It almost exactly copies the American BLU-43/B Dragon tooth mine. The mine was adopted by the Soviet Army in 1975. It can be laid manually or with the help of unique mine fences. The PFM-1 is a dangerous mine because it can be disguised as grass or foliage. The mine is triggered when a person steps on it, resulting in severe injury or death.

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