Kalachi, North Kazakhstan, known alternatively as ‘Sleepy Hollow’ or ‘Village of the Damned’, is a village succumbing to strange symptoms.
Increasing numbers of inhabitants of the town, 250 miles from Russia, have reported drowsiness, fatigue, loss of memory and hallucinations. Some people have fallen asleep for days at a time, on the spot.
The Ministry of Health Care of Kazakhstan issued the following comments in March of 2014, a full year after the events were first observed:
“7 thousand tests of the possible causes of the encephalopathy have been made since March 2013. We have ruled out infectious and bacterial diseases. Gamma-background of the village is within the normal range. No increase in salts or heavy metals concentrations has been detected.”
A team of finest ecologists, virologists and toxicologists combined efforts to solve the mystery of what was quickly determined not to be a contagious disease. An old Russian uranium mine was thought to perhaps be leaking Radon gas, but tests have proven inconclusive.
A partial list of the observed symptoms:
- Children in coma like sleeping states, that have proven too weak to stand upon awakening
- Hallucinations, particularly amongst children (describing monsters, seeing their mothers with elephant trunks or extra eyes, witnessing flying horses and lightbulbs)
- People awakening with the desire to flee the hospitals, often with irrational behaviour (Nazi salutes, rooster impressions, games that turn violent)
- Men have displayed increasing sexual desire
Locals have various beliefs about what is causing the sleeping syndrome and the related side effects. Some suggest that a series of different drugs are being tested on the residents. Some think that the land is instead a dump site for old Soviet chemical weapons, which is poisoning the people who live there. Some even suggest that it is a deliberate attempt to clear the villagers from the land in order to mine gold in the area.
It does seem like these might be obvious reasons for the villagers to be experiencing fatigue and hallucinations, but it does seem like there are a ridiculous number of side effects on show here, almost as if the town is being experimented on. If there is a deliberate intension to drive the people away from the town , I’ve got to wonder what’s down in the old abandoned mine.
June 2015 Update:
Scientists took samples of soil, air and underground water from 12 Kalachi wells. They conducted tests and developed a working version of what was causing the unusual phenomenon of the sleeping village. Further tests are required to confirm the findings but the results of preliminary tests were announced by deputy director general of radioecology at the National Nuclear Center of Kazakhstan, Sergey Lukashenko:
“Excessive contents of carbon monoxide CO and hydrocarbon CH have been found in the samples from Kalachi. I would formulate the causes of the sleeping sickness like this: periodic inhalation of air with depressed oxygen concentration and elevated concentration of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.”
Experts added that the “sleeping sickness” was caused not by any one factor but by a combination of three factors – lack of oxygen and an excess of CO and CH.
“Each of these three components taken separately are almost within the normal ranges – so separately they do not arise any suspicion, which is why the cause of the sleeping sickness could not be figured out for a long time. But a combination of the three factors gives a classic synergy effect. Otherwise not very significant factors reinforce each other and cause the sleeping sickness.”
For a long time, scientists were on the wrong track – Kalachi is located next to Soviet uranium mines that were closed long ago, so the scientists tried to establish a connection between the “sleeping sickness” and radiation from the mines. The experts also believe there is a connection between the mines and the syndrome but not the one that everyone expected.
“There is a relationship between the mines and the sleeping sickness, only uranium has nothing to do with it. The mining works required lots of wood – for fixing, flooring and so on. When the mines were closed, they were filled with water. When the wood came into contact with water, carbon monoxide began to being produced. And when there were large amounts of it, the gas gradually came to the surface.”
The scientists said there would be no recurrences in the near future. But, perhaps, they would begin in winter.
“We are interested in new cases, to understand exactly why this happens. Perhaps this is due to the change of seasons or certain weather conditions.”
It still sounds like some sort of cover-up to me. They’ve spent plenty of time out there (and have concocted a reason why they’ve spent so long out there), but it sounds like they’re still investigating the region. Has anyone had an opportunity to get out there since the initial reports?
July 2015 Update:
Kalachi, and neighbouring ‘ghost city’ Krasnogorsk, both affected, are being evacuated.
The state is currently running an evacuation plan, under which people should be given a place to live in a new location. The government pays 250,000 tenge (£890) to help meet the costs.
Some 68 of the 223 families there have already been moved – with the rest being relocated by the end of the year.
A lot of local conspiracy theorists believe it’s a ploy to get them out because of valuable gold reserves in the mine below.
One, who conducted his own basic scientific experiments, is convinced the phenomenon is due to extra-terrestrial activity.
“It looks like some kind of beam went through the village. I do not know what it can be. Maybe some special equipment, like emitter. I just see that the location of the homes, where people fell asleep are in straight lines, as if some beam cut through them.”
He added: ‘I’m not speaking about UFOs. I am simply trying to understand what is going on here.’