With the results of government tests still pending, more than 60 people from the area around Ratanakkiri’s Yeak Laom Lake, which suddenly became muddy last Friday, gathered to pray for the return of the lake’s once crystal-clear waters.
Villagers, community leaders and representatives of an ethnic minority group lined the banks of the lake, formed during a volcanic eruption some 4,000 years ago, to pray to the spirit they say watches over it.
“We performed an indigenous ceremony on Wednesday evening by preparing food, fruits, cigarettes, white and red cooked rice, wine mixed with pig’s blood and a raft for keeping those things on it,” said Tol Nguch, a member of the Yeak Loam Lake office.
Tol Nguch said he had seen the water in the lake change colour before, but not in such a pronounced fashion, adding that it has also developed a blue tinge, moss and began bubbling in its middle. He said that he hoped invoking the lake’s spirit will cause the water to return to normal in the next few days.
“We just hope the water will return to being crystal clear, but if it is still the same, we will discuss with each other again what we are going to do,” he said.
Provincial director of the Department of Industry, Mines and Energy Hem Vanthorn said the water has been tested, but they are still waiting on the results.
“The lab staff at the ministry are working with the water we sent them to test why it turned muddy,” he said, adding that rainwater flowing into the lake may have accounted for the discolouration.
“We prohibit tourists from swimming in the lake, because we are afraid it will affect their health . . . but we will allow them to swim again when the water becomes normal,” Hem Vanthorn said.