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News 02 Jan 15

Divers Clear More Mines off Montenegro's Seabed

Divers de-activated hundreds of unexploded mines this year in the Adriatic Sea off Montenegro - but dealing with this legacy of past world wars remains a work in progress.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica

Police divers and de-miners have found more than 600 unexploded anti-ship mines, bombs and other explosive devices in Montenegrin waters this year.

The underwater mines, left over from World War I and II, were located and neutralized off shore in the bay near the resort towns of Kotor and Tivat.

Montenegro's Centre for Underwater Demining, a unit of the Ministry of Interior, has been working for years to detect potentially dangerous underwater objects and rehabilitate areas where wartime ordnance is still present.  

The unexploded mines are a threat to both tourism and fishing in Montenegro. Since the Centre was set up in 2002, it has has demined approximately 2 million square metres of water and destroyed approximately 120 tons of mines and other explosive items.

However, the job is not over and tons of dangerous mines remain in the seabed, posing a serious risk.

"This year's work has been very dangerous but thanks to the experience and professionalism of the divers we managed to successfully complete it without incident," the center's director, Veselin Mijajlovic, said on Tuesday.

Mijajlovic said that in 2015 the centre will continue demining of underwater mines on the coast, while the search will expand towards the seabed off the town of Ulcinj.

Under the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which Montenegro has ratified, mines on the seabed that are more than a century old have the status of national cultural heritage and may not be automatically destroyed.

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