A century on from WW1, 100 years of work remains to clear munitions
Updated : October 30, 2018 02:30 PM IST
As the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One draws near next month, bomb disposal experts are still digging up munitions sunk in the killing fields of eastern France -- and it could be another 100 years before they are done.
In Vilosnes-Haraumont, where the River Meuse snakes north and west from Verdun, the German army dumped thousands of artillery shells into the river's slowly shifting waters after the battle of Mort Homme in 1916.
Last week a pair of scuba divers plunged into the chilly waters to tie ropes around dozens of shells buried in the river bed, before a crane dragged and carefully lifted a string of the rusted ordnance onto the grassy bank.
In one day's work, more than five tonnes of unexploded shells were dredged from the river, an unusually large haul.
In a normal year, the Metz Demining Centre says it collects between 45 and 50 tonnes of ordnance, and it estimates there are at least 250 to 300 tonnes still buried in the nearby rivers and rolling hills of eastern France.
For Guy Momper, the bomb clearance specialist overseeing the clear-up, it is a painstaking but essential task to protect people from ammunition that could still explode and return the French landscape to the way it was before the war.