June 3, 2007 / 2:29 PM / 11 years ago

Mudslide destroys Russian geyser valley: report

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A powerful mudslide has destroyed Eurasia’s only geyser valley in the remote Kamchatka peninsula in Russia’s Far East, RIA news agency reported on Sunday quoting local sources.

“A torrent of mud, trees, snow and stones covered two-thirds of this unique nature park,” RIA quoted an unnamed witness as saying. Twenty five tourists and personnel were evacuated from the area, it said.

Kamchatka, a 1,250 km (780-mile) long peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk, is one of five places in the world where geysers -- springs ejecting hot water and steam into the air -- can be found. There were about 90 geysers in the valley.

“The biggest springs may still come through the debris but most of the others are probably lost forever,” RIA quoted an unnamed scientist at a local institute as saying.

The Emergencies Ministry in Moscow said it was unaware of the mudslide. Officials in Kamchatka could not immediately be reached for comment.

Scientists told RIA the slide had also destroyed deposits of siliceous sinter, or geyserite, a rare stone that takes many years to form. The geyserite cements the rock around the geyser and prevents erosion.

“Even a smallest dent in geyserite deposits in the geyser’s crater can change the eruption’s character,” the scientist said. About 3,000 tourists come to the geyser valley every year.

There is no road leading to the valley. An official at the Ministry of Emergencies told RIA a mission to study the consequences of the slide will fly to the area on Monday.

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