More on landmine clearance in Chile

Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region 

This month the Chilean army will begin removing landmines along the road from Puerto Natales to the Torres del Paine National Park http://www.torresdelpaine.com/ingles/index.asp in the country’s southern Patagonia region. The area is a prime tourist destination, attracting around 150,000 visitors annually, and this is what the U.S. State Department has to say about safety:

Minefields are found in Chile’s northern border region with Peru and Bolivia and around the southern border with Argentina in Patagonia. Minefields are generally marked, but markers may have shifted or may not be visible. Follow clearly identified roads and trails when traveling in minefield areas. Border crossings should only be made at authorized locations. Consult with park or other local officials concerning minefields and other hazards.http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1088.html#safety

And the British Foreign Office tells travellers:

Chile has a small but significant landmine problem. Landmine accidents mainly affect livestock and small numbers of local people crossing the borders at unauthorised crossing points. Minefields are located primarily in the border areas adjacent to Peru and Bolivia in the extreme north of Chile, Regions XV, I and II, and Argentina in the south in Region XII. Although most minefields are clearly marked, some signs and fences have been subjected to the effects of weather or vandalism and may be hard to recognise, particularly in the north of the country. Minefields are, in some cases, laid right up to the edge of highways. You should also be aware that there are mined areas in six government-protected wilderness areas in Regions XV,I and II in the north and XII in the south. You are advised to check with local authorities before travelling to these areas, stick to clearly marked roads and observe all warning signs.http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/south-america/chile

A recent story by Mercopress states that the Chilean army is working to clear five minefields in the area, including 30 hectares owned by a rancher who has lost 26 cattle to explosions.http://en.mercopress.com/2012/09/24/chilean-army-begins-october-demining-of-route-leading-to-torres-del-paine-park

And the American defence magazine Dialogo has just published this report on landmine clearance along Chile’s border with Peru, where last February heavy rains dislodged several explosive artefacts and forced the temporary closure of the Panamerican Highway: http://www.dialogo-americas.com/en_GB/articles/rmisa/features/regional_news/2012/10/01/chile-landmines

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