The Dead Sea is shrinking, and as its waters vanish at a rate of more than one metre a year, hundreds of sinkholes – some the size of a basketball court, others two storeys deep – are devouring land where the shoreline once stood.
A section of a two-lane desert road – a main north-south artery that cuts through Israel and the Palestinian West Bank – was shut down six months ago when a gaping hole opened up beneath the asphalt.
Once a rarity, hundreds of new sinkholes are appearing every year, and the rate is expected to rise. Officials have not come up with a figure for the extent of the damage, but power lines have been downed, caravan and bungalows engulfed. On at least one occasion, hikers were injured falling into one of the pits.
“It’s not a problem we can handle alone,” said Dov Litvinoff, mayor of the Tamar region that covers the southern half of the Dead Sea in Israel.
The sea is shrinking mainly because its natural water sources, flowing south through the River Jordan valley from Syria and Lebanon, have been diverted en route for farming and drinking water.
Relocating infrastructure is a temporary solution, the mayor said. The sinkholes will only stop when the waters of the Dead Sea are restored, and that requires an international initiative, since it also borders Jordan and the West Bank.
Even with everyone on board, Litvinoff said, it would take decades to reverse the ecological damage to the ancient salt lake.
The World Bank is promoting a much-discussed project to desalinate waters from the Red Sea to pump the brine by-product into the Dead Sea. However it’s unclear whether the project, described by environmental groups as a drop in a bucket, will take off.
The Dead Sea is a favourite spot for tourists, who enjoy floating effortlessly in its highly salted waters and treating their skin with the mineral-rich mud lining its shores. But two popular beaches have been forced to close and officials fear tourism could start to be affected more seriously.
Deep beneath the newly exposed land is a 30-metre layer of salt formed over thousands of years. Without the Dead Sea waters to protect it, fresh water from rain or desert flash floods seeps underground and dissolves the salt layer, creating a cavity that eventually collapses, sucking in the ground.
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Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:-Psalm 102:25-26 (KJV).
How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished – Jeremiah 12:4 (KJV).
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be – Zechariah 14:8 (KJV).
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away- Matthew 24:35 (KJV).
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up- 2 Peter 3:10 (KJV).
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.- Isaiah 51:6 (KJV).
The First Six Bowls of Wrath – The Rivers Dry Up to make a passage
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared – Revelation 16:12.
We notice that the Euphrates dry up to let the Kings pass through.
Compare to the enemies Daniel wrote about: But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many – Daniel 11:44 (KJV).