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Kazakhstan has just finished its national census, which led to an amazing discovery.

Out of 22 people living in Kazakhstan who are more than 100 years old, 12 of them live in an area considered to be an ecological disaster zone.

At a press conference in Kzyl-Orda on March 6, the head of regional state statistics, Bakhyt Sapar, said that eight of the centagenarians live in the Aral district and four more in the Kazalin district.

Both areas have been devastated by the desiccation of the Aral Sea, which has produced alkaline soil and high levels of salt in the air.

Asked to explain how more than half the country's people over 100 years old could be living in such an area, Sapar speculated it was connected to camel breeding that is traditional for that region, and the drinking of "shubat," or fermented camel's milk.

-- Bruce Pannier

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