EIN GEDI, Israel (AP) — Eli Raz was peering into a narrow hole in the Dead Sea shore when the earth opened up and swallowed him. Fearing he would never be found alive in the 10-meter-(30 foot-) deep pit, he scribbled his will on an old postcard.
After 14 hours a search party pulled him from the hole unhurt, and five years later the 69-year-old geologist is working to save others from a similar fate, leading an effort to map the sinkholes that are spreading on the banks of the fabled saltwater lake.
These underground craters can open up in an instant, sucking in whatever lies above and leaving the surrounding area looking like an earthquake zone. The phenomenon, Raz said, stems from a dire water shortage, compounded in recent years by tourism and chemical industries as well as a growing population. “This is the most remarkable evidence of the brutal interference of humans in the Dead Sea,” he said..