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
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Yorkshire man to win £10,000 off a £1 bet placed six years ago if Dan Jarvis becomes Labour Party leader
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 5 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...