On Thursday, an official declared that recently,  tonnes of dead fish have washed up on the shores of a highly polluted lake in eastern Lebanon.

It was not established what must have triggered the death of this huge number of fish in Lake Qaraoun on the Litani river.

 

According to an initial report, a virus had killed the only carp in the lake; however, a veteran water expert said pollution could have been a possible cause of the deaths.

Hundreds of fish of all sizes were found dead on the banks of the more than five-kilometer-long lake, and the stench of their rotting flesh hovered in the air.

 

Men carried carcasses into a wheelbarrow as a mechanical digger scooped up more into the back of a truck.

The Qaraoun lake was built as a reservoir on the Litani river in 1959 to produce hydropower and provide water for irrigation.

 

But in recent years, experts have warned huge quantities of wastewater, industrial waste, and agricultural runoff containing pesticides and fertilizer flooding into it have made it increasingly toxic.

Since 2018, fishing has been forbidden in the reservoir as the fish in the lake was declared no fit for human consumption, although it has continued to appear in several markets.

 

The Litani River Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon on Friday warned of a “viral epidemic.” They called for fishing to be forbidden in the Litani as well as in the lake.

It said the likely disease had only affected carp, while four other types of fish appeared to be unaffected.

 

Kamal Slim, a water expert who has been taking samples of the lake water for the past 15 years, confirmed pollution could also be the cause.

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