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Abstract

In the early morning of December 26, 2004, a powerful tsunami hit the eastern seaboard of Sri Lanka, devastating fishing communities lining the shore and impacting villages as far as 1 kilometer (0.62 mile) inland. Within days of the catastrophic event, reports reminiscent of the migrating mine situation in Central America following Hurricane Mitch surfaced. As in Honduras in 1998, the possibility of displaced mines and other hazardous ordnance posed a threat to the local population and to emergency relief workers moving into the region to bring supplies and rebuild vital infrastructure. The mine action community in Sri Lanka responded swiftly and cooperatively to determine the accuracy of the reports, assess the scope of the problem, and coordinate its response. As key players in this response, the Sri Lankan army (SLA) demining regiments, which were trained by RONCO Consulting Corporation in 2003–2004 and operate under RONCO's oversight today (under contract to the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement), participated in the survey of reported displaced mines. The SLA also conducted emergency clearance tasks in the vicinity of several naval bases where mines protecting the perimeters had migrated into nearby villages.

 

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