Life without


The Use of Pressure Plates

In Yemen, Project Masam has cleared various types of explosive threats including anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines as well as improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Anti-tank mines are produced locally in large numbers and are the most common found mines in all areas of clearance. During this conflict, anti-personnel mines have been used since at least 2015 and are found in recently liberated areas, despite an international ban.

IEDs come in many forms with the most sophisticated ones assembled to cause damage and loss of life; some of them are disguised as common household appliances, rocks or tree trunks.

There are different types of anti-personnel landmines, some of which are called blast mines. These are buried a few centimetres in the ground and are victim-activated through pressure plates. This means that the weight of a person or animal triggers the detonator, which immediately detonates the mine’s explosive charge.

Because they are triggered by the presence or activity of a human being, anti-personnel mines are banned under the Mine Treaty Ban. Sadly, Masam has discovered very disturbing landmine modifications.

Anti-tank mines are modified to act like anti-personnel mines through the addition of pressure plates, effectively allowing the charge to detonate under much lighter weights than a vehicle or tank. By nature, the explosive charge of those modified anti-tank mines contains several times more explosive material than in anti-personnel mines.

Generally, the activation pressure for anti-tank mines without a pressure plate switch is around 120kg. In the case of these modified mines, the activation pressure for an anti-tank mine with a pressure plate is between 1.8kg (for those with a 26cm pressure plate) and 8kg (for those with a 40cm pressure plate) – putting civilians including very small children at direct risk. Imagine the devastation a mine built to destroy a tank and the people inside and around it can have if it detonates under the weight of a three-year old child?

Wooden Spacer at Each End

Slits for Attachment of Switch Wires