Gafsa: A LAKE that mysteriously appeared in a drought-stricken region of Tunisia last month is being hailed as a miracle by locals, but may in fact be radioactive.


Local shepherds discovered the large body of water along the Om Larayes Rd, about 25km from the southern Tunisian city of Gafsa, about three weeks ago, FRANCE24 reports.

Since then, hundreds of people have flocked to the oasis-like formation dubbed “Lac de Gafsa” or Gafsa Beach. Families swim there, youths leap from surrounding rocks into its clear waters and the curious — and the cautious — come equipped with scuba gear.

“Some say that it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse,” FRANCE24’s Tunisian correspondent Lakhdar Souid said.

Authorities have offered no official explanation for the lake’s origins but local geologists believe seismic activity may have upset the water table and caused groundwater to rise to the surface.

Two weeks after the lake was discovered, Gafsa’s Office of Public Safety warned Tunisians that it was dangerous and not suitable for swimming in.

The region is rich in phosphate — and heavily mined for it — and there are fears that the water is contaminated or even radioactive.

“But since there is no official ban on swimming in the lake, Tunisians continue to do so,” Souid said.