It's been described as one of the world's most shocking disasters: the Aral, Earth's fourth-largest inland sea, has shrunk to a quarter of its size in just 40 years.
The engine roar eased as our Ilyushin Il-114 dropped into Nukus Airport in the north-western corner of Uzbekistan. Under a crisp blue sky, heat shimmered across the arid plain beyond the runway; a vast, grey flatness stretching all the way to Siberia. In a spartan arrivals hall I was greeted by Dilya, our guide for the 210km journey to the Aral Sea. In 40 years this inland sea has shrunk to a quarter of its size, but despite an international talkfest since the Soviets abandoned plans to divert Siberian rivers to replenish the sea in 1987, no rescue plan has been formulated.
We were headed for ...
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