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Walking through one of the world's most dangerous minefields

Inside One of the World's Most Dangerous Minefields

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james-martin-profile-crop

James Martin

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1 of 19 James Martin/CNET

Jose Antonio, who heads Halo Trust's operations in the region, discusses the next day's agenda. It will be the final day of mine-clearing operations in Cuito Cuanavale, Angola, which has been called the most densely mine-filled town in Africa.

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2 of 19 James Martin/CNET

Members of the Halo Trust plan logistics of the last day of operations in the Cuito Cuanavale minefields.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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It's a cold, somber meeting at 5 a.m. on this final day of work as deminers gather before heading to the minefields. Lack of funding is forcing the shutdown of mine-clearing operations here. 

The Milky Way in Angola
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An armored truck waits for duty, parked inside Halo Trust's base in Cuito Cuanavale.

Angola minefield map planning
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Before entering the minefield, area managers from the Halo Trust review maps showing which areas still need to be cleared.

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The warning is clear, regardless of language. 

Soviet manufactured OZM type mine
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This land mine once had a trip wire. It's just as dangerous without one. 

More than 70 types of land mines manufactured in 22 countries have been found in Angola.     

Disabled South African tank in Angolan minefield
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Disabled by an antitank mine during Angola's civil war, this South African tank rests at the edge of a Cuito Cuanavale minefield.

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Red-tipped sticks show a patch of land riddled with live land mines. 

Traveling through Angola minefield
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Protective gear, including chest pads and face masks, must be worn at all times.

Rows of red-tipped sticks mark the boundary between safety and the uncleared land.

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Deminers place white-tipped sticks to show the exact locations of mines they've cleared. A worker walks near a spot were mines had been clustered together to inflict maximum damage.

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Technology -- including drones and Google Earth -- may help find land mines, but it still requires the human touch to clear them. 

De-mining in Angola the Halo Trust
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Leaning carefully over the stick at his knees marking the area yet to be cleared, deminers clear all brush from the meter-wide patches they're searching, so they can place their metal detectors as close as possible to the ground.

De-mining operations in Angola near Cuito Canavale
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This improvised explosive appears to be a rocket, a rifle-mounted grenade and TNT all rigged with a red detonation cord. It's likely connected to another mine or a trip wire.

Angola farm animals
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Angola's 27-year civil war forced many villagers to revert to subsistence farming.

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Amandio Manuel lost both legs after stepping on a land mine in 1986, when he was a logistics officer during the war. 

Princess Diana minefield in Angola
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This area in Huambo was a minefield where Princess Diana walked 20 years ago. It now has a school, hotel and rows of houses.

School students Angola
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Students walk to school in a Huambo neighborhood that was once a minefield. This area was cleared by the Halo Trust and returned to the community.

Village near a minefield in Angola
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These women pounding corn live in a village that's just a 5 minute walk from the Cuito Cuanavale minefields. 

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