Environmentalists say mismanagement of water resources around the Dead Sea has produced more than 3,000 sinkholes.
The saline lake — bordered by Jordan, Israel and the West Bank — is evaporating at nearly four feet per year, which leaves behind the salt pockets responsible for the dangerous sinkholes, reported ABC News.
Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East, told the news site that the sinkholes are “nature’s revenge.”
The organization of Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists is dedicated to preserving their shared environmental heritage.
EcoPeace says the construction of dams, storage reservoirs and pipelines has caused the unique salt lake to dry up at a distressing rate. Water simply is not flowing in as freely as it once did from the typical sources, the Jordan River and various tributaries.
“They could develop overnight or over time,” Bromberg said to ABC News, “making them unpredictable and very dangerous.”
The first sinkhole appeared in the 1980s, but new ones appear every single day. They grow in groups and collapse into one another to create massive craters, according to Bromberg.
In 2005, Smithsonian magazine said that roughly 1,000 sinkholes had been reported. The new 3,000-plus figure indicates that they have been appearing at an accelerated rate in recent years.
Bromberg fears that an overnight sinkhole might cause Route 90, which runs along the lake, to collapse.
“If nothing is done, it’s only a matter of time until someone dies,” he said.
Haaretz reports that Israel’s Transportation Ministry closed down a nearly 1,000-foot stretch of the highway in January after several meters on its eastern side sank roughly five centimeters.