16th-Century Convent "Reappears"

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September 2, 2009—Low water levels at a southern Mexico reservoir have revealed the remains of a 16th-century convent submerged when the lake was created 40 years ago.

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

CORRECTION: The original title of this video implied the convent had been submerged for the entire 40 years since the reservoir's creation. The ruins, however, have reappeared before when water levels were low. (Posted September 4, 2009.)

Unedited Transcript

A 16th Century convent in Mexico has re-emerged as water levels in a dam reservoir have fallen to low levels.

Low water levels at the Malpaso hydroelectric dam in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas have uncovered part of the convent, which was submerged along with the community of Quechula 40 years ago when the dam was built.

Only older residents still remember the neoclassical Santiago Convent.

The lack of rain this season has resulted in such a dramatic drop in water levels that about 32 feet of the 49-foot high convent front walls are visible above the lake surface.

Mexicos President says climate change was to blame for the lack of water in the heavily populated area.

SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico: "Climate change does affect us, and it particularly affects developing countries a lot. In the specific case of this area, one of the most populated of America and the world, it affects the water resources that we have available."

However, the general director of the Energy Federal Commission claims that the low water levels were also the result of water being drained to a local river ahead of the rainy season to avoid flooding in neighboring towns.

In recent months, water reservoirs at hydroelectric dams throughout Mexico have fallen to significantly low levels.

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