Discoveries of human remains in the waters of Lake Mead continue amid drought

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Water levels have plummeted so much that, in addition to several bodies, a sunken World War II-era ship has been exposed.

Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images

Human remains have been found in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area for the fourth time since May. In the latest incident, park rangers received a call about skeletal remains in the Swim Beach area, National Park Service officials said in a statement.

Rangers set up a perimeter on the beach to recover the wreckage with the help of divers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department., according to the Park Service. A medical examiner was also called to determine the cause of death.

At least three different assemblages have previously been found in the lake, where water levels have plummeted to record lows amid an unrelenting water crisis in the west.

Previous remains discovered, including a body found in a corroded barrel with a gunshot woundwere in advanced stages of decomposition and therefore it was difficult to extract DNA, authorities said.

It is unclear how long the latest remains found have been in the lake. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police homicide division is not currently in charge of the investigation, Lt. Jason Johansson told CNN.

While the grim discoveries in the waning lake quickly spawned theories about mob involvement, Johansson said those ideas are “mere speculation” at this point in the investigation.

A spokesperson for the National Park Service told CNN that one possible explanation for the remains could be that they belong to people who previously drowned in the lake when water levels used to be high.

At its height in the 1980s, Lake Mead, the nation’s largest man-made reservoir, was 1,225 feet above sea level. But as the mega-drought persists, water levels have plunged this year to the lowest level since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s.

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