Parched dam reveals centuries-old town


Nueva Ecija: Ruins of a centuries-old town have emerged at a dam parched by drought in northern Philippines, giving residents a rare spectacle and an extra source of income in a region dependent on rice-growing.

Following a prolonged dry spell with little rain, the dam has revealed parts of a sunken church, tombstones in a cemetery and foundations of other structures from the old town in Nueva Ecija province.

“When I heard about the sunken church of old Pantabangan town resurfacing, I got excited and wanted to see it,” said 61-year-old retired nurse Aurea Delos Santos.

Remnants of the old sunken town of Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija province, Philippines, are now visible because of the drought.

Remnants of the old sunken town of Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija province, Philippines, are now visible because of the drought.Credit: Getty

Some locals have cashed in on the attraction, ferrying tourists to the island. “Back then, I was only earning 200 pesos ($5.30) from fishing, but when the tourists arrived, I’m earning 1500 to 1800 per day,” said fisherman Nelson Dellera.

The old town was relocated in the 1970s during the construction of a hydro-power dam, which now serves as the main irrigation and water source for Nueva Ecija and nearby provinces, according to the local government.

An aerial view of the cemetery of the old sunken town of Pantabangan on April 28.

An aerial view of the cemetery of the old sunken town of Pantabangan on April 28.Credit: Getty

This event marks the sixth appearance of the nearly 300-year-old ruins of old Pantabangan town. The reservoir’s water level has dropped nearly 50 metres below normal as the country faces extreme heat exacerbated by El Niño conditions, leading to official drought declarations in about half of the country’s provinces.

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Other countries in South-east Asia have also been grappling with extreme heat, prompting schools to suspend classes and governments to urge people to stay indoors to prevent heat stroke.



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