Kalachi is a rural locality in Kazakhstan. In 2014, it was reported that a fifth of the population had been affected by a "sleeping syndrome." In 2015 it was said that over half of the population of the village has planned to move elsewhere. It was later determined that increased carbon monoxide levels in the atmosphere from the nearby abandoned mine is reducing the levels of oxygen.
People falling asleep
In summer 2014, Victor Kazachenko was riding his motorcycle across Northern Kazakhstan and was headed to a nearby town to run some errands, but he never arrived. Kazachenko was hit by a mysterious illness that made him blackout and falls asleep while riding. He woke up 4 days later in a hospital, with no memory of what happened and, he wasn't the only one.
The village of Kalachi, in Kazakhstan, has been struck by a true medical enigma that is causing people to fall asleep for days at a time. Interestingly, when they come out of it they don't have any recollection of what happened.
46-year-old Taisiya from, Kalachi, experienced this sleepy hollow 3 times in just a few years. The first time was in 2012, she was going through her regular routine at work, when all of sudden she felt light-headed, once she got home, she blacked out and woke up in the hospital a few days later. A neighbour of her had rushed to help her, but while they were back on the way to home, her friend fell asleep as well. This happened the second time in March 2014, she was getting ready to go to a concert when suddenly she started feeling dizzy again. She sat down on a chair, fell asleep, and woke up 5 days later in the hospital.
Her latest experience, however, was slightly different. In Feb 2015, she had the other sleep attack, but it was on her feet. It was as if her legs were paralyzed and she couldn't walk properly. It lasted for 3 days, and even though Taisiya wasn't asleep, she was walking around and talking as if she was under anaesthesia. The weirdest part is, she couldn't remember any of it.
This mysterious epidemic was spreading across the village very fast, but nobody really knew what was causing it. In the period of three years, more than 100 people were affected by this mysterious illness in Kalachi.
What it feels like being affected?
So, what people truly feel like when they become affected? Well, it all starts with lightheadedness, and then you feel like your legs are too heavy to walk. When you get stuck, you fall asleep within minutes and might be hallucinating about random things until you are out of it. Witnesses who had been around people while experiencing this mysterious illness noticed that when they try to talk to them they seem like they are listening but they can't open their eyes or move their mouth. It seems like something similar to sleep paralysis.
Since the illness occurs so suddenly, the patient's also becomes slurred, it was difficult to understand what they are saying, and the problem doesn't end when they wake up. After they open their eyes, apart from memory loss, they have difficulty speaking, and they struggle to stay awake. It is just as if they just woke up from surgery and once you stop talking to them, they instantly fall back to sleep for a while.
According to a report, this disease also affected an animal, it was a cat named Marquis. The owner claimed that the cat started acting weird, at first she was meowing constantly, and then she started attacking everything; walls, furniture-whatever stood in her way. She finally went to sleep, but according to her owner, she was snoring like a real person.
After the outbreak, doctors and scientists started doing extensive research to find out what could be the cause. At first, everyone thought that it was intolerance to a specific drink. However, this theory was disproved when kids started being affected. All other such theories were rejected as none of them could be proved.
The story of the sleepy hollow was becoming stranger from all around the world. That was when Victor Kryukov ( the former director of uranium mine ) came out with some interesting statements. He claimed that the most plausible explanation for these sleep attacks was carbon monoxide. According to Victor, the gas was seeping through the ground, which was causing people to fall asleep. He claimed that uranium had nothing to do with it but uranium mine did.
So why these attacks begin after 2010, almost 20 years after the mine closed, let's take a deep dive into the Chemistry. Uranium is a non-ferrous metal and like all other non-ferrous metals it is usually found in the mountainous regions. The uranium mine near kalachi village was also in a mountainous area, and it had inclined entrances that allow people to go as deep as 2100 feet. After the mine was closed it stopped pumping the water out, so for more than 20 years, all the voids had been filling up with water.
Now, since the mine was abandoned, all the supporting wood they used for supporting while digging was left there. As the water rose, the wood began to oxidize. Since the mine was also 2100 feet deep, a pressure of 63 atmospheres was created. When this happens, the water turns to lighter gas at the surface of the mine and carbon monoxide gas seeps out of the ground in the air and if any person inhales it he or she feels dizzy or fall asleep. This theory of Victor Kryukov was proven right!