(ORDO NEWS) — On August 21, 1986, something like an explosion sounded near Lake Nyos in northwestern Cameroon. The next morning, 1,746 people and over 3,500 cattle within 25 kilometers of the lake were found dead.
Some lakes are like serial killers. They are sweet and calm, until one day they break loose and kill hundreds of people…
No sign of any struggle, no shooting, no explosion. Only a strange sound over the lake. After him , hundreds of dead people and animals were found in the settlements and next to them.
Local residents could not explain what happened. Someone called it a chemical attack, someone was looking for a religious explanation.
Those who survived mostly people who quickly moved to higher ground away from the lake described neighbors and relatives who fell asleep and did not wake up, as well as a cloud of gas that emerged from the lake and spread across the area at great speed.
Some people simply lost consciousness and, waking up the next morning, saw dead bodies around them.
Within a week, scientists arrived at Nyos. The first thing they saw was bodies lying all over the place and a lake that turned from blue to red. Of those who survived, many suffered from vomiting, diarrhea and hallucinations – symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning.
What actually happened?
Lake Nyos was formed in the crater of a volcano and stored a huge amount of carbon dioxide under its surface. Usually this is not a problem: more often than not, the fluidity of the water rids the reservoirs of toxic fumes before they become truly dangerous.
But Lake Nyos is very quiet you can say it is closed in on itself. So for hundreds of years, the gas continued to accumulate underwater, waiting for an excuse to break out.
No one knows what exactly disturbed the lake that day – whether it was a landslide or just a sudden release of gas but when it exploded, about 1.2 cubic kilometers of CO 2 abruptly erupted and covered nearby communities like a gas tsunami.
The gas is denser than the surrounding air, so it did not affect people who were on high ground, but those who slept on the floor did not wake up.
It wasn’t until 2001 that French researchers finally found a way to keep people living near Nyos safe. Now there are pipes at the bottom of the lake, through which gas gradually flows out.
In addition, experts have installed an alarm system that should alert villages along the lake in case the silent killer returns. This will give people some time to move 15-20 kilometers from Nyos and escape.
Contact us: [email protected]