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lundi 22 juillet 2013

Star Wars film set used in The Phantom Menace at risk of being swallowed up by sand dunes in Tunisian desert

It's an iconic sight that many Star Wars fans recognise instantly.

But the fictional city of Mos Espa - built for Star Wars Episode I - where Anakin Skywalker grew up are in danger of being swallowed up.

But the threat is not some enemy from the cosmos - it is giant sand dunes marching across the Tunisian desert towards where the city was built.

The sand dune strikes back: The city looks like it will be swallowed up by the huge arc

The massive arc has been rapidly approaching the huge attraction in the Tunisian desert

Fans flock to see the fictional city of Anakin Skywalker in the middle of the desert

The force of the huge crescent of sand - known as a 'barchan' - is expected to swallow up the city, which featured in The Phantom Menace.

A barchan is arc-shaped sand ridge that has two 'horns' that face downwind, with a slope of around 35 degrees. They can stretch from a few metres to a hundred between the horns.

It has been moving at 15m a year, and has already made contact with the famous buildings, the BBC reported.

The site is of huge importance to Tunisia's tourism trade, with thousands flocking to see where Jedi-turned-Sith Darth Vadar grew up.

These domed buildings of the fictional city Mos Espa featured in The Phantom Menace, 'Episode I' of the Jedi saga

A report suggests that the government may even try to intervene to thwart the sand dune from destroying the city

The set was the home of the young Anakin Skywalker, who later became Darth Vader

The city is instantly recognisable in the films because of its buildings' domed roofs that protect them from the inhospitable desert, and a podracing track.

A report by scientists suggest that the government may even try to intervene and stop the dune from eating up the profitable attraction, the Independent reported.

Dr Ralph Lorenz from John Hopkins University in the US wrote: 'Given the importance of this site to the tourism industry of Tunisia, it may be that it is a candidate for mitigation measures, not being pursued at present.

'These could include erecting fences or walls, bulldozing the approaching dune (which would take considerable effort and would have to be repeated with each oncoming dune), or moving the site out of the path of the dunes.'

In 2009 University professors visited the Mos Espa site and discovered that a nearby set used in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope had already begun to be partly eaten up by the sand drifts.

Usually properties are not built on the desert, as they are subjected to these moving dunes which cover them before moving on - leaving a wreck in their wake.


PUBLISHED: 19:08 GMT, 20 July 2013 | UPDATED: 20:36 GMT, 20 July 2013

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