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Lost Ships, Dwindling Fishing Industry and Salt Flats

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Ships rust in the seabed near the former fishing village of Birlestik.

Kazakhstan’s former fishing village of Bogen once enjoyed near mythological status in the Soviet Union, its fishermen lionized during World War II for supplying truckloads of their catch form the Aral Sea to soldiers fighting on the eastern front.

Bogen is now well inland, and camels roam what was once the seabed. On a late March afternoon it was engulfed in one of the dust storms that have become more common since the Aral started drying. These storms kick up cloud of salt, dust and toxic substances across inhabited areas.

"This is how we live here," said an elderly resident who worked in the local fish factory before it closed down, as he stood in line to pump water from the village well. "You see how it all goes up when the wind blows."

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David Trilling is EurasiaNet’s Central Asia news editor.

Lost Ships, Dwindling Fishing Industry and Salt Flats

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