Over the past few years the town of Epecuen, 341 miles south-west of Buenos Aires, has been attracting tourists with its eerie apocalyptic atmosphere after a flood submerged it in saltwater for more than two decades.
Originally a busy lakeside tourist village in the 1920s renowned for its saltwater baths, Epecuen changed forever on 10 November 1985, when a succession of rainy winters caused Lago Epecuen to overflow and water surged through a special retaining wall and into the town.
"It's really difficult to define how I feel. I miss the place with the noises, with its smells, with its feelings, one misses the people, friends, the warmth of the big family that we were – these things I do miss, but you lose your identity, your roots, your belongings, you lose a lot of things that just now you can start defining because up until now and after 30 years you couldn't define it," said Viviana Castro, after placing up a memorial plaque near a former business.
The lakeside resort used to be a top tourist destination in the country, as seen in footage from 1954. People living in the capital Buenos Aires would flock to Epecuen by train or car in the summers to bathe and float in the salty thermal waters. Mirta Noemi Estoessel, who used to own a hotel in the village, said that former residents not only lost material belongings in the flood but also their way of life.
"I came here, to this hotel that used to be mine, after 25 years, and this is what is left. It was a total uprooting because here we all knew each other, we were all friends, the children went to school together and well everything was lost because not only did people lose their properties, the hotels, but they also lost their lives [speaking figuratively]," she said.
The ghost town, which now attracts curious tourists for its bizarre landscapes instead of its thermal waters, has only one inhabitant, 85 year-old Pablo Novak. He explained what happened on that November day that changed the village and the lives of its inhabitants forever.
"They reinforced the embankment and the water came up on the 10 November – it burst. At the very least it burst in the two points which was the weakest part and slowly it started flooding a few homes. The municipal hydraulic came and they told us that the embankment couldn't be fixed and when everything burst the water came until it covered everything," he said.