A river in southern Turkey has been invaded by a mass of water hyacinths that spread upstream from Syria and clogged the region’s waterways causing dismay for local residents.
The common water hyacinths, otherwise known as Eichhornia crassipes, started in western Syria and travelled along the Orontes River into the southern Turkish province of Hatay, which lies on the Mediterranean coast where the river ends.
The glut of aquatic plants has affected water routes into the city of Antakya, formerly Antioch.
Stretches of the 355-mile-long river, which rises from Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley and flows through Syria before crossing the Turkish border, have been covered in the water hyacinths for a month and a half.
Despite clean-up efforts by the authorities in Antakya with the aid of vessels and excavators, the plants keep on spreading.
Local resident Ali Askar told reporters that he walks along the riverbank every morning and says that the water hyacinths have multiplied to “uncontrollable” levels.
Meanwhile, Omer Duranoglu complained that people are throwing rubbish on top of the covering of plants on the water surface, making the area look “ugly”.
Antakya official Dr. Samim Kayikci said that the water hyacinths, which originated in South America, “clog irrigation channels” and affect “channels of hydroelectric plants” wherever they spread.
He added that there is a chance the plants may reach other Turkish rivers.
The water hyacinths have already invaded some stretches of the river in the districts of Samandag and Defne.