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Grisly discovery in barrel at bottom of lake after drought drops water levels

Plummeting water levels amid historic droughts have led to boaters making a grisly discovery in a barrel at the bottom of a lake.

The remains of a man were discovered after the steel barrel was uncovered at bottom of Nevada’s Lake Mead, 38 kilometres east of Las Vegas.

The barrel — exposed due to historically low water levels and submerged in mud —contained the body of a man who had been shot, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A steel barrel on sand at Lake Mead (left) and a close up of the barrel with human remains inside (right).
Human remains have been found in a steel barrel at the bottom of Lake Mead in the US, while police warn more bodies may be discovered as the drought causes water levels to recede. Source: Shawna Hollister/KLAS and Getty Images

A couple docking their boat on the country’s largest artificial reservoir made the gruesome find on Sunday.

“I was shocked, I didn’t believe it,” Shawna Hollister told the Los Angeles Times.

“You could clearly tell it was a body.

“The legs were separate from the rest of the body, and it was clear that the person was wearing a shirt.”

The body in the barrel was discovered at Lake Mead in Nevada. Source: Getty Images
The body in the barrel was discovered at Lake Mead in Nevada. Source: Getty Images

Based on personal items found inside the barrel — including a pair of shoes — police believe the body may have been in the lake from sometime between the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

Fears more bodies will be uncovered

Lieutenant Ray Spencer from the Las Vegas Metro Police told local news station, KLAS-TV, they had recovered the entire body and most of the body was fully intact.

He said they are planning on working with experts to narrow down a timeline.

While investigators now work to try to identify the skeletal remains and determine how they ended up there, there are fears more bodies will be uncovered.

“I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains,” Lt Spencer said.

“I think anybody can understand there are probably more bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead, it’s just a matter of, are we able to recover those.”

Water levels at Lake Mead are their lowest since 1937, while scientists say the drought across the western US is being exacerbated by human-made global warming.

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