Tons of dead fish have been dumped on the shore of Lake Litani in Lebanon, leaving the nearby village immersed in the pungent, unbearable smell of rotting fish.
Volunteers collected rotting fish carcasses near Lake Qaraoun on Lebanon’s longest river, the Litani, where activists have been warning of sewage and waste pollution in the water for years.
Piles of trash were lying in the lake next to dead fish. Swarms of flies spread near the body of water, and thousands of fish were decomposing in the already dirty water.
“This phenomenon appeared on the lake shore a few days ago,” said Ahmad Askar, a local activist.
“The fish started surfacing, and in abnormal numbers… This is unacceptable.”
At least 40 tons died in a few days, which Askar and fishermen in Qaraun called unprecedented numbers. They called on the Litani River Authority to find the cause and prosecute anyone who discharges wastewater into the lake.
The department said this week that the fish are toxic and carry the virus, urging people to avoid fishing throughout the Litany River due to “an escalating public health disaster.”
The contamination led to a 2018 ban on fishing in the reservoir, which was created in 1959 with a large dam to collect water for hydropower and irrigation.
Last month, volunteers removed clumps of sticky tar from some beaches along Lebanon’s coast after an oil spill that environmentalists warned could harm marine life.
Environmental disasters are the last thing Lebanon needs as it undergoes an alarming financial collapse and the aftermath of the huge explosion that destroyed the port of Beirut last August.