More than 260 civilians have been killed in Ukraine after stepping on landmines or other explosives during the 20-month-old war with Russia, Ukraine’s military said on Wednesday.
Kyiv estimates that 174,000 sq km of the country – about a third of its territory – is potentially strewn with mines or dangerous war detritus.
At least 571 people have received injuries during more than 560 incidents involving mines or explosive objects left behind by the fighting, the General Staff said on Telegram messenger.
Almost a quarter of the incidents occurred in fields, it added.
Some farmers take risks trying to work in areas thought to be contaminated with mines. On Wednesday, a tractor hit an unidentified explosive in southern Mykolaiv region, leaving two men wounded, the Interior Ministry said.
“One of them had two legs amputated, the other refused to be taken to hospital after being examined,” it added on Telegram.
Ukraine is in critical need of sappers. It now has about 3,000 specialists operating, but it needs 7,000 more to fully clear all the mines, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal was quoted as saying by Suspilne media.
That process would require around $37 billion in funding, a sum Kyiv is seeking to raise with the help of international partners.