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Perched among the highlands of western Cameroon, bordered by green mountains and cliff faces, Lake Nyos is a scene of breathtaking beauty. But the picture is deceptive. A detailed study reveals that without emergency measures, the lake could release a lethal cloud of carbon dioxide, capable of wiping out entire communities around its shores.
The warning, from a team of scientists, comes nearly 20 years after the lake belched an estimated 80m cubic metres of CO2 into the atmosphere. Heavier than air, the cloud of gas rolled down surrounding hillsides, engulfing villages. Silent, odourless and invisible, it starved the air of oxygen, asphyxiating hundreds of cattle and claiming the lives of more than 1,700 people up to 26km away.
YAOUNDE, Sept 28 (Reuters) - A natural dam holding back the water of Cameroon's Lake Nyos, where hundreds were killed in a 1986 poison gas disaster, is not solid and could collapse in a decade, putting thousands at risk, United Nations experts said.
After a three-day inspection, Olaf Van Duin and Nisa Nurmohamed of the Netherlands Ministry of Transport and Public Works reported weaknesses in the volcanic rock barrier at the lip of the lake in northwest Cameroon.