MNN Galleries

10 places ruined by man-made catastrophes

By: Bryan Nelson on Jan. 23, 2012, 9:04 a.m.
A man walks past an orphaned ship in former Aral Sea, near Aral, Kazakhstan.

Photo: Staecker/Wikimedia Commons [CC by 1.0]

7 of 12

Aral Sea

The Aral Sea, one of the four largest lakes in the world just 40 years ago, has almost completely dried up after the rivers that fed it were diverted by poorly planned and mismanaged irrigation projects. The event has been called "one of the planet's worst environmental disasters." Fishing vessels that once sailed the vast inland sea now sit eerily out of place in the middle of a desolate, dusty desert, relics of a time when thriving villages flourished along the Aral Sea's banks. Although some of the cities, which were once grand ports, remain populated today, many have had to be abandoned. Where the sea's edge once lapped with waves, today remain only sullen towns consumed by windswept sand.