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  • Efforts to tame African 'killer lake' begin

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In August 1984, a white cloud emerged from Lake Monoun in Cameroon, and 37 people on a dirt road dropped dead. Two years later, 1800 people were asphyxiated by a burst of carbon dioxide from nearby Lake Nyos, and 'killer lakes' sparked global headlines.

In 2001, a pipe was put into Lake Nyos to vent carbon dioxide from its depths, and recent data shows that it is working — albeit slowly. But now researchers say that Monoun is more dangerous than its neighbour.

Kevin Krajick reports that this week, after years of delay, an international team is at last preparing to tame the first lake to exhibit this strange phenomenon. And although the technology is simple, the procedure can be tricky, as researchers must make sure they do not spark the very gas bursts they seek to prevent.

Link to full Science news feature

Reference: Science 299, 805 (2003)
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