KIEV, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine will need 10 to 15 years to clear the landmines that had been planted during the conflict in eastern regions, the Defense Ministry said Friday.
"The mine-contaminated area is now estimated at 700,000 hectares. It will take between 10 and 15 years to clear it from the unexploded ordnance," ministry spokesman Maksym Prauta told a media briefing.
The conflict between the government and pro-independence rebels started in April 2014. So far only 3,000 hectares of land has been cleared of landmines, Prauta said.
Ukraine's demining experts plan to clear another 1,000 hectares by the end of 2017, he added.
During the three-year conflict, more than 150 civilians, including 42 children, were killed and over 600 others wounded in landmine explosions in eastern Ukraine.
Local experts have estimated that the operation to completely clear the area of landmines would cost half a billion U.S. dollars.