VILOSNES-HARAUMONT, France (Reuters) – As the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One draws near next month, bomb disposal experts are still digging up munitions sunk in the killing fields of eastern France — and it could be another 100 years before they are done.

World War One was largely fought on French and Belgian soil. The bulk of the grinding conflict took place in trenches — sometimes only a few metres apart — dug into the soil along the borders of France, Germany and Belgium.

More than 10 million soldiers, including 1.4 million French, died in the conflict, which came to an end on Nov. 11, 1918, dramatically altering France’s demography and landscape. The physical impact can still be seen, with the traces of old trench networks scarring the fields, and the ground pockmarked by the blast holes from exploded shells.

“There are regularly accidents involving people who fancy themselves as deminers but who go too far,” said Benoit, a deminer working with the Metz team. “Unfortunately that costs lives in the worst cases.”

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