Moynaq (Mo’ynoq) encapsulates more visibly than anywhere else the absurd tragedy of the Aral Sea. Once one of the sea’s two major fishing ports, it now stands almost 200km from the water. What remains of Moynaq’s fishing fleet lies rusting on the sand in the former seabed.
The mostly Kazakh residents have moved away in droves, and today Moynaq is a virtual ghost town populated by livestock herders and the elderly looking after grandchildren whose parents have left to find work elsewhere. The few who remain suffer the full force of the Aral Sea disaster, with hotter summers, colder winters, debilitating sand-salt-dust storms, and a gamut of health problems.