Muynak: life in the disaster zone

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Muynak, which once lay on the coast of the Aral Sea nearly 70 km away from it. And since there is no road salty, toxic desert that has replaced the former seabed, it is no difficult to reach the Aral Sea from there. But a few determind fisherfoik still commute by jeep to their boats to try andl a living. Situated in the Amu Darya river delta the more than 3000 fisherfolk who In 1957 brought in of fish - half of the total Aral Sea catch and about 3 pot the entire Soviet catch. By 1970, the Sea was 10 km awn) 1980,40 km. With the sea disappearing and the river turn some 50 lakes in the delta also dried up. In 1994 ,the Muy erfolk harvested just 3000 tons of fish from a welland remains. Along with the delta wetlands, the ff once produced 1.1 million muskrat skins for fashionabi and furs, have also disappeared. Muynak is today a ruln The number of fisherfok who still try to eke out an existence from the polluted, salty waters are now less than a teeth around 250. The death toll is high and migration. rife. The pop lation of the Muynak region has nearly halved - from 45,000 1960 to 27,000 in 1994. The town's most eerie landmark is a graveyard, with numerous ships stuck in the sand, standing mute testimony to the Aral Sea disaster.

The fish cannery of Muynak which once provided numerous jobs has greatly reduced its operations. Since local fish can longer meet the full needs of the people, desperate effort has been made to get fish for canning from as far away as the north or the Caspian Sea to the west. From a capacity 27,million cans, the cannery produced only 4 million in 1993.

The sorrounding lands are also very degraded and do not pro- Any scope for alternative employment The people are des- Rate and repeatedly ask visiting press team 's, "When will the and disaster relief begin?

The landis polluted, the fish are contaminated and the water usually bed In such a situation how long can Muynak and its people survive? Nobody knows!