Thursday, September 29, 2005

African lakes could kill again, warn scientists.

In 1984, a huge bubble of carbon dioxide tore loose from Lake Monoun in Cameroon, suffocating 37 people in the surrounding area. Almost exactly two years later, as many as 1,800 people were killed near Lake Nyos, also in Cameroon. Now, scientists are worried that it might happen again. (BBC, The Guardian)

An international effort installed a pipe at Lake Nyos in 2001 and another at Lake Monoun in 2003 to release the deadly gas in a safe and controlled manner, but the pipes aren't removing gas quickly enough. To make matters worse, a natural dam at the lake has been severely eroded over time; a dam break could threaten some 10,000 people who live nearby and may trigger another outgassing event like the one in 1986. (Wikipedia article on the dam)

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