Villa Epecuén, a resort town located 340 miles (547 km) southwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was once a booming tourist destination on the shores of a salt lake known for its healing properties. Then, after heavy and persistent rains in November 1985, the levees burst and the town found itself suddenly under water and no longer inhabitable for its 5,000 residents. But after being buried under 33 feet (10 m) of salt water for about 25 years, Epecuén began to re-emerge in 2009. The once-thriving town had become a jumble of dead trees, crumbled buildings, and rusty cars. No one has dared to return, except for 86-year-old Pablo Novak, who now has the distinction of being Epecuén’s only resident.
Emergence of Argentina's Atlantis:
- Pablo Novak was 60 years old when the water swallowed the town. “I decided to stay,” he explained after returning, “because I spent my youth here, I went to school here, and also started a family here. So it seemed quite normal.”
- The salt water of Laguna Epecuén -- 10 times saltier than the sea -- drew comparisons with the Dead Sea. Due to the influx of tourists, the town's population would swell fivefold during the high season.
- Laguna Epecuén’s therapeutic power was legendary. It was said that the water could cure conditions such as rheumatism, skin diseases, and anemia. Some even claimed that a plunge into the salty blue water could cure paralysis.