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Mysterious lake in Tunisian desert…

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…turns from turquoise to green sludge

The stretch of water, dubbed the Lac de Gafsa, may be the result of a rupture in the rock above the local water table

The lake has gone from turquoise to a murky green colour. Photograph: Facebook

The lake appeared in the Tunisian desert like a mirage; one minute there was nothing but scorching sand, the next a large expanse of turquoise water.

For locals, roasting in the 40C heat, the temptation to cool off in the inviting water quickly overcame any fears about the mysterious pool.

Hundreds flocked to what quickly became known as the Lac de Gafsa or Gafsa beach to splash, paddle, dive, and fling themselves from rocks into the lake, ignoring warnings that the water could be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, riddled with disease or possibly radioactive. Even after the water turned a murky green, they arrived in droves, undeterred.

“Some say it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse,” Lakhdar Souid, a Tunisian journalist, told France 24 television.

The Lac de Gafsa is about 25km from the Tunisian city of Gafsa and has been irresistable to swimmers in the heat. Photograph: Facebook

“In the first few days, the water was crystal clear; a turquoise blue. Now it’s green and full of algae, which means it’s not being replenished.”

Mehdi Bilel was returning from a marriage in the north of the country when he spotted the lake in the desert canyon 25km from the city of Gafsa on the road from Om Larayes.

“After several long hours on the road without a break, I honestly thought I was hallucinating,” he told journalists. “I don’t know much about science and thought it was magic, something supernatural.”

Gafsa became the centre of the country’s mining industry after phosphate was discovered in the southern Tunisian region in 1886. Tunisia is now the world’s fifth largest exporter of phosphate, which is used in industry.

Shepherds discovered the lake, thought to be up to 18 meters deep and covering one hectare, three weeks ago. Local geologists suspect seismic activity may have ruptured the rock above the water table sending the liquid to the surface.

Other theories have suggested the canyon has simply collected rain water.

“News of the lake’s appearance has spread like wildfire and now hundreds of people, eager to escape a heatwave, go there to swim,” Souid wrote in the Tunisia Daily newspaper.

Since then, there has been no further official news, though experts have warned that if the lake has indeed formed because of a rupture in the water table, the cracks from which the water came could cause the water to flow the other way and drag swimmers to the bottom.

Source: TheGuardian

Ghost of the Past

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World War II fighter found in Egyptian desert

The pilot appears to have crash-landed the plane and then walked off into the desert

A World War II RAF fighter, which crash-landed in a remote part of the Egyptian desert in 1942, has been discovered almost intact.

There was no trace of the pilot, Flt Sgt Dennis Copping, but the British embassy says it is planning to mount a search for his remains.

The RAF Museum in Hendon, north London, says it is hoping to recover the plane as soon as possible.

There are fears souvenir hunters will start stripping it.

The 24-year-old pilot, the son of a dentist from Southend in Essex, went missing over the Western Desert in June 1942, flying an American-made P40 Kittyhawk single-engine fighter.

Two-and-a-half months ago an aircraft believed to be his was discovered near a remote place called Wadi al-Jadid by a Polish oil worker, Jakub Perka.

His photographs show the plane is in remarkably good condition, though the engine and propeller have separated from the fuselage.

The original paintwork and RAF insignia are said to be clearly visible, almost perfectly preserved in the dry desert air.

But of the pilot there is no sign. He appears to have executed a near-perfect emergency landing, perhaps after becoming lost and running out of fuel, and to have survived the crash.

Source: BBC News Read more

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