From: Bruce Sterling <>
Subject: Viridian Note 00139 : Mudslide Land-Mines
To: Viridian List <>

Key concepts: Viridian disasters, Mozambique

Attention Conservation Notice: grim reportage, can cause feelings of despair

Viridian Individual Projects:

(((A particularly colorful aspect of the Mozambique disaster are the migrating land mines. This phenomenon was also known in Honduras after their obliterating hurricane. Land mines are especially dramatic and newsworthy, in that their declared design intention is to blow people´s legs off.

(((However, truly massive floods, by violently scrambling the infrastructure, leave all kinds of impromptu death traps. Homes float off their foundations and their natural gas pipes catch fire; underground gasoline tanks erupt from the soggy topsoil; bridges and dams are fatally weakened to collapse years later; the spectrum of "Wexelblat disaster" is as variant as industrialism itself. See the related Viridian concepts of "Involuntary Parks," where nature returns because mankind has rendered the area humanly uninhabitable, and "The World is Uninsurable": when massive disaster is so frequent that entire nations become too risky to attract investment capital.)))

Source: Austin American-Statesman, March 3, 02000 page A-4
Los Angeles Times wire service

"Land mines complicate Mozambique rescue"

"Maputo, Mozambique == Hundreds of US soldiers expected to join rescue efforts in Mozambique as early as this weekend will have deadly obstacles other than the weather to overcome, according to land mine experts in this devastated southern African country.

"Mozambique is one of the most heavily mined places on Earth, the legacy of a lengthy civil war in the 1980s and early 1990s. The rain and floods of the past month have submerged thousands of the deadly devices in the worst-hit Gaza province, where the Limpopo and Save rivers have spilled across vast stretches of land.

"Moreover, hundreds of the buried weapons are believed to have been swept from positions that humanitarian groups had painstakingly plotted on maps during the past few years. Portions of the flood plain considered safe only a month ago are once again potential death traps.

"´It is really dangerous right now because our maps are not accurate anymore,´ said Nicolas Blais, mine coordinator for Handicap International, one of half a dozen organizations that clear mines in Mozambique. ´People don´t have a chance to see what is under their feet because of the water.´ (...) (((It´s always grimly cheering to see these selfless Non-Governmental Organizations pitching in; in Mozambique´s case, they´re probably best-described as "Post-Governmental Organizations." Land mines have attracted a lot of activism. Soon, we´re likely to see rescue NGOs sprouting up worldwide specifically for Greenhouse disaster relief.)))

"Varying estimates put the number of land mines in the country, which is slightly bigger than Texas, between 400,000 and 2 million. (...) (((It´s a nice measure of the scope of uncertainty that 1,600,000 anti-personnel devices are entirely undocumented. Why don´t landmine exporters make landmines that will rot? "Embrace decay," fellas == even with your best efforts, no war lasts forever.)))

"The United Nations estimates that up to 1 million people have lost their homes and are in urgent need of help after the worst floods in decades to strike the poverty-stricken country. Thousands more are feared dead."

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