Fri, Nov 29, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Bosnians ponder mystery of the disappearing pond

AP, SANICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina

A photograph made available on Tuesday shows a sinkhole near the village Sanica, 200km from the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, on Nov. 15. The sinkhole has left a large crater where a pond used to be.

Photo: EPA

Just outside the rustic village, children fished in a tranquil pond bobbing with green algae and lined with willow trees, as cattle grazed nearby.

Now, Rezak Motanic gazes in disbelief down a gigantic moonlike crater where the pond used to be. It is like something from a science fiction movie: a sinkhole swallowed the water, the fish and even nearby trees.

“I sat here only a day before it happened, sipping plum brandy,” Cemal Hasan said. “And then, there was panic. Fish were jumping out, and a big plum tree was pulled down like someone yanked it with a hook.”

The villagers of this remote northwestern Bosnian village have been in shock since the pond vanished two weeks ago.

The pond was about 20m in diameter and about 8m deep. Now, the “abyss,” as the villagers have dubbed the crater, is about 50m wide and 30m deep — and growing.

Scientists say it is not uncommon that ponds and small lakes suddenly disappear. They say it could be caused by drying underground water currents, or changes in soil drainage due to irrigation.

However, the Sanica villagers are having none of the scientific explanations.

“It could have been a giant cave that opened its doors,” Milanko Skrbic said. “Or a volcano.”

Another popular theory — one that experts dismiss along with the others proposed by townsfolk — is that fish could have triggered the explosion of one of several World War II German bombs believed to have been thrown into the pond by an old woman after the war.

“She herself died when one of the bombs exploded in her arms,” Cemal Hasan said, as he stood on the edge of the “abyss.”

Another spooky explanation: The owner of the pond took it with him when he died about a month ago.

“Only days before Hasan passed away he said: ‘I’ll take everything with me when I die.’ And that’s what he did,” Motanic said. “His daughter saw him walk on the lake the night he died.”

Husein Nanic said it could be a sign that the end is nigh.

“All sort of miracles happen before the doomsday,” he said.

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