Lake Perucac’s watery grave
The search for human remains buried in Lake Perucac, situated along the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, has ended. The water levels, drained for over two months, are now restored. On the last day of the search, families of those hoping to find loved ones came to pay their respects and to pray for those whose bodies will remain buried under the water forever.
Amor Masovic, Chairman of the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons (INO), says an area of approximately 2.5 million square meters has been searched since July 26. Doctor Hamza Zujo, the pathologist who works for the INO, believes that between 700 and 1,000 bones were found. “Now we have to extract DNA from those bones and identify people. We are hoping that about 100 people will be identified,” he said.
Lake Perucac, is an artificial lake owned jointly between the municipalities of Srebrenica and Visegrad in Bosnia, and Bajina Basta in Serbia. It was created in the 1960s by damming the Drina River and harnessing its flow to power the Bajina Basta hydroelectric power station. In July, the reservoir was drained for maintenance and repair and it was then that the waterless lake revealed its grisly secret.
The lake, which is 54 km long and 1,100 m wide, is considered to be the largest mass grave in Europe. More than 400 mass graves have been discovered in Bosnia after the last war, some containing more than 1000 bodies, but none as big as Lake Perucac. The search took place on both sides of the lake and covered 108 km.