19 Nov 2009

90 mines neutralised in New Caledonian clean-up

2:11 pm on 19 November 2009

An international military operation to remove hundreds of large mines left in New Caledonia's lagoon since the Second World War has so far located more than 90 mines.

Noumea's daily newspaper reports that more than 400 items of interest have been identified during the operation, which involves experts from France, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The international component is about to be wound down, with French divers continuing the search in the sea access lanes to Noumea and Prony Bay for another two weeks.

The French military says the old mines contain up to 300 kilogrammes of explosives and could pose risk to shipping.

In 1942, the Australian ship HMAS Bungaree placed 1,900 mines in 12 locations to counter a possible enemy invasion.

Some of the mines were removed by the US military at the end of the war.