Thousands of Sinkholes Threaten Dead Sea’s Tourism Industry
MITZPE SHALEM, West Bank — The Dead Sea is dying. Thousands of sinkholes have opened up around the historic tourist destination, turning some areas into a treacherous landscape resembling a giant Swiss cheese.
As many as 5,000 sinkholes have appeared since the 1980s, often swallowing buildings and roads in their path without warning. The situation has become so dire that 400 sinkholes are now reported around the body of water every year — a rate of more than one per day.
So far there have been no confirmed injuries linked to the cavities, which can measure 80 feet in diameter.
But last month, a sinkhole materialized overnight at Mineral Beach, a resort in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. It engulfed the parking lot along with with treatment rooms and several palm trees.
Cohen came to Mitzpe Shalem 20 years ago to run the resort when he said it was one of the main attractions in the area. Today, it looks like a movie set from a Hollywood disaster film.
“We are a small kibbutz and this resort was our supporting pillar, economically but also socially,” Cohen said. “This was a shock for us but slowly we are picking up the pieces and expect the country to help us out.”
The Dead Sea sits on the border of Israel, West Bank and Jordan. At around 1,400 feet below sea level, it is the lowest area of land on the planet.
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