An Extreme Drought In Thailand Just Revealed A Long-Lost Underwater Temple

A picture of a Buddhist temple in Thaliand.
Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

A Buddhist temple that has long been underwater in Thailand has reemerged amid one of the worst droughts the country has seen in recent memory.

As LiveScience reported, the temple and the village that surrounded it were submerged two decades ago when a dam was constructed in the region. The temple, which is known as Wat Nong Bua Yai, was once the center of religious activity and culture in the region, attracting locals to participate in rituals and festivals and serving as a gathering place for the community.

Now, as the report noted, thousands of tourists and pilgrims have flocked to the region to see the temple, which has detailed sculptures of elephants at the entrance to the main building. Pictures published in the LiveScience report showed a family praying before a statue of a person sitting cross-legged on the ground.

The temple has now reemerged due to a drought that has brought the Mekong River to its lowest level in 100 years. Despite Thailand being in the middle of its rainy season, extreme conditions have pushed the river to just 3 percent of its normal capacity. This fact has generated international attention, with many saying that the unusually long drought is a side-effect of climate change.

The Bangkok Post has reported on the effect climate change has had on farmers who are now having to deal with irregular rainfall patterns — droughts during the rainy season and rainfall in the dry season. Thailand is part of the Paris Climate Agreement, with the country working at reducing its carbon emissions toward its long-term goals and plans to go even further than the Agreement’s targets.

”Thailand is moving in a good direction as we can achieve the minimum target of emissions reduction,” said Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning secretary-general Raweewan Bhuridej. “But even with a positive outcome, we won’t stop taking action to reduce emissions.”

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The drought has brought tensions across Thailand, with reports that farmers have come into conflict as they compete over a very limited supply of water. As the Bangkok Post reported, the country’s Meteorological Department warned earlier this summer that the country was headed toward its worst drought in a decade as rainfall totals across the country were falling well below normal levels.

“The country’s overall rainfall is the lowest in a decade,” said Kornrawee Sitthichiwapak, the department’s deputy director-general. “As such, farmers will have to wait until late August or early September for heavy rain to fall.”

Officials have said that the drought in Thailand is expected to continue for at least the next few weeks.