Mystery as 'lake' appears in middle of Tunisian desert and becomes overnight tourist attraction
Authorities have warned the water could be radioactive and cause cancer
Friday 01 August 2014
A mysterious lake that appeared suddenly in the Tunisian desert has created an impromptu “beach” in the drought-ridden country.
No explanation has been given for the sudden appearance of “Gafsa Beach”, which was discovered by shepherds three weeks ago.
Authorities have warned that the water, which started off a crystalline blue and has since turned a murky green with algae, could be carcinogenic but Tunisians have not been able to resist cooling off in the 40C heat.
More than 600 people are believed to have flocked to the pool, locally dubbed “Lac de Gafsa”, where they have paddled, scuba dived, launched themselves off rocks and relaxed on lilos.
“Some say that it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse,” journalist Lakhdar Souid told France 24.
There has been no official explanation for the lake's origins and while some geologists believe seismic activity may have caused groundwater to rise to the surface by disrupting the water table, others disagree.
According to local authorities, the volume of the pool could be one million cubic metres over more than one hectare, with a depth of between 10 and 18 metres.
No official ban on swimming has been put in place but Gafsa's Office of Public Safety warned Tunisians that the water may be contaminated or even radioactive.
“This lake is located in an area rich in phosphate deposits, which leave residue that is sometimes strongly radioactive,” Mr Souid wrote in Tunisia Daily.
“So there is a real risk the water is contaminated and carcinogenic.
“In the first few days, the water was a crystal clear, turquoise blue. Now it is green and full of algae.
“This means it is not being replenished and is conducive to disease.”
The Gafsa region of central Tunisia is home to the country’s mining industry and phosphate was first discovered in 1886.
Tunisia is the world’s fifth largest exporter of the chemical, used in agriculture and industry, and the Gafsa is home to one of the largest phosphate mines.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
Dramatic GoPro video shows backpacker Alexander Hennessy warding off armed robber in Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Best Place To Be Today shows 365 of the world's most amazing places - and the perfect time to visit them
The 50 Best Winter Breaks
Watch a man race the Circle line - and win
Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...