In most towns and cities, people come and go and that’s common. Some might return, while some leave and never turn back. But, what if people go and nobody ever return?
Towns slowly becoming desolate, only occupied by nothing but trees and animals. These towns are called ghost towns. They are abandoned residential areas, usually inhabitable due to various reasons.
Ghost town is not a strange phenomenon. It happens all around the world and these are some of the (almost) ghost towns around the world:
1. Kampung Kepayang, Malaysia
Somewhere in the southern Ipoh, Perak, a line of houses and shops stood strong and proud. They were empty.
Kampung Kepayang is a bustling town in the 1960s. The town was built as a popular tin-mining outpost during the older days. In 1980s, there was a huge collapse in tin-mining industry as tin price dropped by 50 percent. Hence, many mines were closed, including Kampung Kepayang mining area.
The youths started to move out of the town, hoping for a better future somewhere else. The old stays. Slowly, the population decreased. Eventually, what’s left is just a silent town. The place slowly became unsightly as scavengers came and looted parts or items from the old shop lots.
In 2017, New Strait Times interviewed a man who lived and worked at the ghost town in his family’s barber shop. The man lamented about the town worsening condition, hoping that it could be revived one day.
2. Craco, Italy
There was a small, quaint town on the hills of Italy, abandoned because of unfortunate events. The ancient town can be found located at Southern Italy.
It was once a thriving town in Italy, with agriculture as its main activity. But a plague invaded in 1656 and kill hundreds of its residents. Then, in the 19th century the medieval town reached its maximum expand limit. Added with poor agriculture during that time forces the people to migrate to a better town. With all of the problems, the residents still adamant on staying at the town.
The residents finally defeated by the frequent landslides and earthquakes from 1950s to 1970s because of the clay rich soil and bad drainage. In 1963, the last 1,800 residents of Craco were forced to move and relocated at Craco Peschiera for their own safety. Now, the town is nothing but a hollow, empty residential area, eaten away by time.
3. Dhanushkodi, India
At the south-eastern end of Pamban Island (or Rameshwaram Island), India, an abandoned town was built near the sea. It is a home to only small number of fisher family left.
Danushkodi has a story to tell. It was the place where the epic Lord Rama builds his bridge to save his wife from the Demon King Ravana. Lord Rama then destroyed the bridge with arrows from his bow at the request of Vibhisyam. Thus, giving the town the name ‘Danushkodi’ which means ‘end of bow’.
Once a flourishing town until December 22, 1964 where an unforgiving cyclone destroyed Danushkodi. Houses, church and other buildings were flattened, killing almost 1,800 residents along. The government concluded that the place was unfit for human habitation. Therefore, the people of Danushkodi moved out of the town, leaving an empty, lifeless town with only grim memories remained.
The town has now become a tourist attraction after 50 years from the incident. The remnants of the town and the enchanting panorama of the beach is the reason why tourists loved the place.
4. Centralia, United States
If United States is able to snap away one of its town into dust, it is Centralia. Situated at Columbia County, Pennsylvania, the mining town is home to only 7 residents. Other leave after the incident started in 1962.
In May 1962, prior to the town’s Memorial Day (a day to commemorate those who died serving in U.S Military), the city council decided that they should dispose the trash which started to pile up in their landfill. So, he thought burning up the trash will immediately solve the issue.
Unfortunately, the fire set the mine ablaze (though it is debated). They tried to put the flame out, but due to the numerous tunnel mines in Centralia, it was near impossible to trace the fire source.
The underground mine continued to burn until this very day due to the coal deposits at the mine, causing some places to reach almost over 100 degree Celsius. The smoke even escaped through cracks and sinkholes (also due to the underground fire) Government tried to coax the people of Centralia into moving away.
Everybody but 77 remained. They were forbidden to trade or pass down their house in Centralia to anyone. Empty houses tore down and covered with plants, leaving no traces of the house whatsoever. It has now become a tourist area, which causing the residents more problems than the smoke and sinkholes.
Also, Centralia PO box was removed, anything with the name ‘Centralia’ was also snapped away by the United States government.
5. Pryp’yat, Ukraine
Located at the northern Ukraine, the town currently sheltered around 180 people. It was a small, comfortable town before the evacuation due to the infamous Chernobyl disaster in April 1986.
The disaster happened after the completion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. One of its 4 reactors exploded, killing 81 people on site and later took another 4,000 lives from its radiation release on its second explosion. The explosions occurred due to an experiment gone wrong. Since Pryp’yat was built for the employees of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Therefore, it was obvious the city was located near the nuclear power plant.
Radioactive toxic waste is released into the air and traveled to the town by the wind. However, the government did not inform the residents of Pryp’yat. As workers, miners and firefighters scrambled out and about trying to neutralize the situation, the citizens are still going around doing their daily routine, kids go to school, mothers drying their clothes and others.
A day after the explosions, government started to evacuate the residents. They were told that they will be evacuated for only 3 days. However, they never able to return till this day as radioactive material still lingers around.
- Nurul Athifa Mohd Aslam adalah pelajar Fakulti Filem, Teater dan Animasi.
- Dr. Mohd Syuhaidi Abu Bakar adalah Pensyarah Kanan, Fakulti Filem, Teater dan Animasi.