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Ecuador’s tallest waterfall has disappeared

Ecuador's tallest waterfall has disappeared after a sinkhole diverted its water source.

The 150m-high San Rafael Waterfall on the Coca River previously attracted tens of thousands of people a year.

But a sinkhole appeared in the riverbed above the fall, diverting the river into three separate sections with a less steep slope, according to local media reports.

The river appears to have all but vanished from the vantage point from which it used to be photographed.

The Ministry of the Environment has launched an investigation into the cause of the sinkhole, but experts suggested it may be related to the construction of the country's largest hydroelectric plant.

The San Rafael Waterfall on the Coca River previously attracted tens of thousands of people a year

"A waterfall that has been there for thousands of years does not collapse, coincidentally, a few years after opening a hydroelectric project," Emilio Cobo, coordinator of the South America Water Program at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, told Mongabay.

"These are processes that are in scientific papers and there is sufficient evidence that a dam can cause effects of this type on a river."

The cascade of water stopped flowing on 2 February, according to Nasa's Earth Observatory.

Ecuador's tourism ministry has said it does not plan to reconstruct the waterbed or restore the waterfall.

It has also cancelled all tours of the falls.

"Unfortunately, Cascada San Rafael is now part of history and will not return," a spokesperson said.



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