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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
In Pictures: Aral Sea tragedy
By Cathy Brown in Tashkent

The Aral Sea, once the fourth largest inland sea in the world and home to hundreds of species of marine life, has shrunk to 25% of its territory. The sea, bordered by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, is now surrounded by deserts where scorching winds carry polluted air - poisoning people, animals and plants.

Ashore
The water of the Aral Sea can only be seen from planes some 100km away from the shores

Amu Darya River
The Amu Darya River - once considered the Mississippi of central Asia - is today a mere trickle

Muynak ship graveyard
The fishing fleet of Muynak is rusting away on the dried-out seabed. Much of the water was diverted to irrigate cotton crops

Dying on the shore
Only joint action by central Asian governments can reverse the damage, local activists believe

Women of Karakalpakstan
Around 70% of women suffer from anaemia and the death rate in childbirth is high

The last fisherman of Muynak
The fishing industry employed 60,000 people in Muynak in the 1960s. Unemployment is at about 40% today.

Tins in the Muynak museum
Only the tins in the museum recall the past - all the canning factories have gone, the population has shrunk to 1,500.

Fish for sale in Muynak market
In the last recorded year of 1957 the Aral provided 26,000 tonnes of fish - today a catch is rare

Muynak bazaar
The small bazaar in Muynak has almost no fruit or vegetables and the people feel abandoned by the world

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See also:

16 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
The Aral Sea tragedy
02 Mar 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
The return of the Aral Sea
27 Mar 98 | Water Week
The Aral Sea crisis
03 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Uzbekistan
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