It remained a hidden underwater world for nearly 25 years, but slowly the water around Argentina's 'town that drowned' has started to recede, exposing the ruins that nestle below.
Once a vibrant lake country spa town south of Buenos Aires, Epecuen was flooded nearly three decades ago - the lagoon salt water has left its mark with everything slowly emerging from the flood covered in a silvery-white layer. The Argentinian town was flooded without warning - on November 10, 1985 - after a long period of heavy rains finally sent the lagoon bursting over its banks, submerging the small community.
Surreal change: A man compares a picture of Lago Epecuen village taken in the 70's with the current state of the place - it was flooded on November 10 1985
The flood barely gave its 1,500 residents time to gather their belongings and flee - stark reminders of daily life remain from the car engines left in the streets to the rusty beds protruding from the water.
'I had a bunch of cats and dogs, and they ran away a couple days before the flood and I never saw them again,' Norma Berg, 48, told AFP. She lived in the town until the flood forced her family to desert their home. 'I think my pets could feel that the water was coming,' Ms Berg said.
Since 2009 the level of the water has been decreasing and therefore exposing the ruins of this once very visited lakeside resort. The spa town had been a popular tourist designation with 20,000 people paying a visit each year to the lagoon. The town had 280 businesses, including lodges, guesthouses, hotels and businesses, centred around the tourist trade. Lago Epecuen’s therapeutic powers have been famous for centuries and the lagoon has a salinity level only topped by the Dead Sea.
Legend holds that the lake was formed by the tears of a great Chief crying for the pain of his beloved. It is said that Epecuen — or ‘eternal spring’ — can cure depression, rheumatism, skin diseases, anaemia, even treat diabetes.
Even after the flood waters receded, the town was not rebuilt - there is now one lone resident in the area - Pablo Novak, 81. 'Until about four or five years after the flood, when the waters were still high, nobody came around here at all.' 'I was totally alone. All day, every day,' said Novak. He spends his days cycling around the ruins, although more visitors have come to the town recently in an attempt to salvage materials to recycle from the ruins.
Deserted: Even when the waters eventually receded, the country town was never rebuilt and has remained eerily deserted
Desolate: A damaged tomb at the cemetery of Carhue - since 2009 the level of the water has been decreasing and therefore exposing the ruins of this once very visited lakeside resort
Buried: The former slaughterhouse in the town - an area of about 40 square blocks was submerged
This is the town that drowned: Once a lake country spa town south of Buenos Aires, Epecuen is now deserted due to flooding