Back to Sleepy Hollow: RT returns to Kazakhstan for new theories on mysterious disease
At least one out of every 10 villagers in Kalachi, northern Kazakhstan, has inexplicably dosed off to sleep in broad daylight. Some were unable to wake up for several days. Some experienced the enigmatic sleep more than once. One local woman told RT she had as many as eight instances of a narcoleptic episode.
In the new documentary, RT spoke to some of the locals and even filmed the slumber's onset. It is characterized by an overwhelming weakness and memory loss.
Children falling prey to the disease experience hallucinations.
"He was seeing frogs on the walls," the mother of one afflicted boy told our crew. "It was scary to see. I could barely stand it, being in the hospital and watching my son suffer every day."
Over half of the village's 600 inhabitants have left because of the sickness. Those who remain universally told our crew they were not going anywhere from the land where they were born.
What is perhaps even more baffling than the disease itself is that no explanation of its nature has been found during the whole two years that it’s been active.
One thing that the sleep has been blamed on is radiation. There is an old uranium mine near Kalachi, abandoned in the 1980s. While filming the first documentary about the ‘Sleepy Hollow’, RT's crew discovered radiation levels 17 times higher than the norm in the mine.
However, in the village itself, radiation - as well as about a dozen other readings and sample analyses - appear to be completely normal. Soil, water, food, air: nothing betrayed any evidence of causing the disease.
Our crew took the trouble to send a water sample to a Moscow laboratory for a double check - which revealed no abnormalities either.
One hypothesis is voiced in the second documentary, and is linked to the abandoned uranium mine. A former miner, who had spent several decades working there, thinks the disease is caused by radon gas, released into the village by groundwater flowing through the mine.
"It has no oxygen in it. Oxygen is what nurtures our blood, and first of all, our brain. People just pass out," the former miner told RT's crew.
For more theories and analysis of the mysterious slumber, watch the RT documentary ‘Back to Sleepy Hollow, Kazakhstan.’ It premieres on Monday, and is already available on the RTD website.