Two young British tourists were rescued by fire fighters on Sunday after being stuck in the mud in an attempt to cross the Larnaca Salt Lake.
According to local media, the emergency dispatcher received a call at 5:12pm Sunday afternoon, reporting that two young females were trapped in the Aliki salt lake in Larnaca, near the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque.
The two girls were attempting to walk on what seemed to have been a dry surface in order to reach the other side.
But they got stuck in the mud about 250 metres from the shore.
'It’s not against the law. But there are signs and the risk is clearly there. You can’t know what’s underneath and salt crystals will burn your feet,' Kettis told Knews
A rescue team approached the two females, helped them pull their feet out of the salty crust, and provided a rescue stretcher for them to get in and pulled back to safety.
The tourists suffered minor burns on their legs and feet and were treated on the spot. But they were taken to the Emergency Room later at Larnaca General Hospital as a precaution.
The top layer on the surface of the lake was dry according to Andreas Kettis, the Larnaca fire department spokesperson.
“But underneath the crust there are salt crystals that cause burns,” Kettis told Knews.
Kettis said there are a number of health risks for people who get stuck in Aliki, including burns, dehydration, sun reflection, and heat exposure.
The spokesperson said there was a similar case last year and the fire department asked local authorities to put up warning signs.
It is not clear how many signs are posted in the area currently and whether they are visible from all access points.
Sources told Knews there were additional incidents this year but the fire department did not have data available for the public.
Kettis told Knews there were no offences committed during the incident on Sunday.
“It is up to each person’s judgment. It’s not against the law. But there are signs and the risk is clearly there. You can’t know what’s underneath that dry surface and salt crystals will burn your feet,” he said.
Kettis also noted the time of the incident, in the late afternoon, saying an earlier time would have been far more taxing on the girls due to extreme heat.
The Larnaca salt lake, near Larnaca International Airport, is a protected wetland where thousands of flamingos come during the winter.
In the old times, villagers from nearby areas would be seen collecting the salt from the lake and carrying it out with the help of donkeys.
Nowadays it is a popular attraction among visitors, who often stop to take photos and selfies as well as enjoy the view and the occasional breeze depending on the time of the day.
Officials have asked the public not to distrub wildlife at Aliki and particularly refrain from getting close to the flamignos for photographs.