If they make a movie about fly fishing in Veracruz, Mexico, it won’t be called A River Runs Through It. A mysterious crack opened in the ground this week and swallowed a local river and everything in it in a day. Will the movie now be titled River of No Return?
The Atoyac River (also called the Oaxaca River) starts in the city of Amatlán of Kings in central-eastern Mexico and runs (or ran) through the municipalities of Atoyac, Yanga, Cuitlahuac, Carrillo Puerto, Cotaxtla and Medellin before reaching Boca del Rio on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the main water supply for over 10,000 families and industries in the region.
On February 28th, residents of the Rancho community of San Fermin reported hearing a loud boom and feeling the earth shake. The next morning, they noticed that the Atoyac River was gone, leaving nothing but a muddy river bed. Following what used to be the flow, they discovered a crack measuring 30 meters (98 ft.) by 20 meters (65.5 ft.) across the river bed.
Agustin Mollinedo Hernandez, mayor of Atoyac, called for help.
A geological fault, generated the total cut of the channel of Atoyac river; It make me sad and courage, we must rescue this tributary, we have to rescue him, because not only the species is species is killed but this is the life and soul.
Geologists from the Personal Civil Protection and the National Water Commission surveyed the scene upstream and downstream from the crack and warned that the Cotaxtla river, which flows into the Atoyac, is running dry as well. What’s worse, households and industries lining the river use it for disposing wastewater and the risk of contamination is high and immediate.
What opened the hole that drank the Atoyac dry? The geologists suspect underground limestone deposits – often the culprit in sinkholes and cracks – eroded and collapsed, draining the river water into the underground fissures and caves that caused the collapse in the first place.
Locals report that the fish are gone, vegetation on the banks is dying and birds and animals that lived near the river have disappeared. As of this writing, there is no proposed solution for this mysterious and destructive hole that killed the Atoyac.
Local resident Juana Sanchez put it best:
We do not know what awaits us … We have exploited the river and is now charging us.