New Lake that Just Magically *Appeared* in Drought-Stricken Region of Tunisia Might Be Poisonous/Radioactive
A lake that mysteriously appeared in a drought-stricken region of Tunisia last month is being hailed as a miracle by locals but may in fact be radioactive...
Local shepherds discovered the large body of water along the Om Larayes Rd, about 25km from the southern Tunisian city of Gafsa, about three weeks ago, FRANCE24 reports.
Since then, hundreds of people have flocked to the oasis-like formation dubbed “Lac de Gafsa” or Gafsa Beach. Families swim there, youths leap from surrounding rocks into its clear waters and the curious — and the cautious — come equipped with scuba gear.
“Some say that it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse,” FRANCE24’s Tunisian correspondent Lakhdar Souid said.
Authorities have offered no official explanation for the lake’s origins but local geologists believe seismic activity may have upset the water table and caused groundwater to rise to the surface.
Two weeks after the lake was discovered, Gafsa’s Office of Public Safety warned Tunisians that it was dangerous and not suitable for swimming in.
The region is rich in phosphate — and heavily mined for it — and there are fears the water is contaminated or even radioactive.
“But since there was no official ban on swimming in the lake, Tunisians continue to do so,” Mr. Souid said.
“News of the lake’s appearance has spread like wildfire and now hundreds of people, eager to escape a heat wave, go there to swim. While the origins of this lake remains a mystery, our biggest concern right now is the quality of the water.
“This region is overflowing with large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue so there is a real risk that this water is contaminated and carcinogenic (but) there is no security of any kind.”
Worryingly, the color of lake, which is estimated to be between 18 and 20 meters (59 to 65 feet) deep has changed from a clear, turquoise blue in the first few days to a slightly murky green.
“The site is certainly stunning and there are many large rocks perfect for diving but it has become infested with green algae, meaning that the water is stagnant and conducive to diseases,” Mr Souid said.
Despite the government warnings, more than 600 people have already taken a dip at Gasfa Beach, which now has its own Facebook page (no women swimmers, of course- RR):