Danger job in the heart of Africa

Chris Bull takes a break from defusing bombs in southern Sudan to meet local people.
Chris Bull takes a break from defusing bombs in southern Sudan to meet local people.
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A FORMER Stamford man is helping to save African villagers at risk of death or mutilation on hidden minefields.

Bomb disposal expert Christopher Bull, who went to Queen Eleanor School, is spending weeks in the bush in south Sudan tracking down and disposing of bombs and minefields scattered around the countryside.

Former Stamford man Chris Bull, pictured with his second in command David, with a 500kg bomb they defused. It was found 300m from people's homes.

Former Stamford man Chris Bull, pictured with his second in command David, with a 500kg bomb they defused. It was found 300m from people's homes.

Mr Bull, 29, is working with G4S Ordnance Management in the Kapotea region of Sudan where he works with the Taposa tribe.

Mr Bull, who served in Iraq with the Royal Engineers and left the Army in 2009, has cleared 20 bombs ranging from 100kg to a 500kg device.

Mr Bull said: “I do this job for a number of reasons – the sense of purpose I get doing this as well as helping people is massive.

“I like the danger, which sounds strange but I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie at heart.

Smoke rises from 500kg and 250kg bombs

Smoke rises from 500kg and 250kg bombs

“Another factor is the fact that the only other skill I have is carpentry ,which is miles apart from this and something I am not into at this stage of my life.

“Every day is different and always a challenge. At the moment things are quite difficult here because of the referendum and the changes within the country are massive.”

Sightings of bombs are passed on to Mr Bull and his four-man team by locals or by the United Nations.

Mr Bull makes the bombs safe by either removing or smashing the fuse before moving the bomb and disposing of it with explosive charges.

But this is not always possible if a bomb is near houses. Then Mr Bull and his team destroy the bomb using deflagration process where explosives are rapidly burned without a large explosion.

He said: “One 500kg bomb we destroyed along with a 250kg bomb were particularly difficult as they were 700m from a UN camp and the safety distance for destroying the bombs is 1.2km.

“It meant we had to make sure we did our jobs well. We destroyed the bombs but smashed 28 windows with the blast wave in the process.

“No-one was injured in this and we successfully completed the task.

“It was the largest I have worked on out here. I was 300m from the blast inside an armoured vehicle.”

Mr Bull works closely with the Dinka and Taposa tribes.

He said: “The largest, the Dinka, is the tribe I daily encounter. All my local staff are Dinkas and they generally are a friendly tribe but with some strange customs.

“The Taposa tribe is the tribe that I am working around at the moment. They live in huts made from mud and sticks which are on stilts about 2m off the ground.

“There are many different customs with all the tribes but tribal markings are usual.

“My second in command David had his markings made on his forehead when he was five-years-old.

“This is a normal age for them to have them done and some can be very seveare.”

Despite living for so long in the bush, Mr Bull is still able to make regular contact with his mum Susan Probst, who lives in Wall Gardens, Tixover, and his brother Stephen, along with his partner Katharina Bieseke and two-year-old son Sam, who live in Germany.

Mr Bull said: “I love my job here but it can sometimes be very stressful and demanding.

“I miss my family and my son and spend months in the bush eating tins of tuna and corned beef with little else to live on so things can get tough.

“I have had malaria and blood parasites so this job is not for the faint hearted.

“Maybe I am a little weird to be doing this job but for me the good that I am doing outweighs the bad stuff.”