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The Slow Death Of The Aral Sea

NASA announced recently that the eastern basin of the once great Aral Sea dried up completely in the month of August for the first time in modern history. Previously the fourth-largest inland sea in the world, Soviet irrigation projects set up in the 1960s to support the Uzbek cotton industry have had a devastating effect on this body of water. Dmitry Volchek from RFE/RL's Russian Service traveled to the Aral Sea in May and brought back these poignant pictures.

A memorial to victims of World War II now also stands as a reminder of the sea that once lapped the shore here. 
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A memorial to victims of World War II now also stands as a reminder of the sea that once lapped the shore here. 

A few short decades ago, this used to be under water. 
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A few short decades ago, this used to be under water. 

A so-called ships' cemetery near the Uzbek town of Moynoq is shrinking, because a major part of the former fishing fleet has been utilized as scrap metal
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A so-called ships' cemetery near the Uzbek town of Moynoq is shrinking, because a major part of the former fishing fleet has been utilized as scrap metal

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Many of the fishing villages and settlements on the banks of the Aral have declined in tandem with the sea's demise. 
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Many of the fishing villages and settlements on the banks of the Aral have declined in tandem with the sea's demise. 

This fish used to be the symbol of the town of Moynoq. Now, it serves to commemorate what once was. 
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This fish used to be the symbol of the town of Moynoq. Now, it serves to commemorate what once was. 

Former fishermen's dwellings
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Former fishermen's dwellings

An old fish-canning facility -- now defunct. 
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An old fish-canning facility -- now defunct. 

The building used to house a cinema theater and a local club
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The building used to house a cinema theater and a local club

Rusted wreckage lies at what was once the bottom of the Aral Sea. 
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Rusted wreckage lies at what was once the bottom of the Aral Sea. 

What is left of this once-great body of water can be seen on the horizon. 
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What is left of this once-great body of water can be seen on the horizon. 

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