Colombia's Caribbean Jewel Slowly Sinking As Sea Waters Rise

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

A skeleton lies exposed to the elements as turquoise Caribbean waters lap the shores near a shattered tomb -- a grisly reminder that the Colombian city of Cartagena is slowly being swallowed by the sea.

With low-lying communities worldwide on the front lines of the climate crisis fight, Cartagena is conspicuously vulnerable.

On Tierra Bomba, a small island in the bay of Cartagena, the cemetery once built at a safe distance from the shore has been devastated by repeated flooding, while houses have tumbled into the waves.

Kelly Mendoza has seen two of her neighbors lose their homes, and at night the 31-year-old hears the surf crashing against her bedroom wall.

"I get scared when the wave hits the wall because I think it is going to fall," and "I will find myself in the sea, in my bed."

Cartagena, a tourist hotspot in the north of the country, could find itself almost a meter underwater by the end of this century, experts say.

"The increase in sea levels in the coastal area of Cartagena is due to two factors," said Canadian environmental scientist Marko Tosic, one of the authors of a study showing waters there were rising faster than the global average.

He said global warming -- which melts polar ice caps and glaciers -- had combined with erosion and the "sinking of the land... due to tectonic factors" and the presence of submarine volcanoes, to hasten rising sea levels in the region.

These volcanic formations "are muddy, and little by little gravity puts pressure" on them, causing the terrain to flatten and the city to sink, Tosic added._AFP

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