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Last Sunday afternoon, a 38-year-old tourist from Tabasco, Mexico, drowned in the “Encantadao” cenote located in the hotel zone of Tulum. Authorities said the man jumped into the cenote to save his daughter after she fell into the water from a kayak. An investigation is underway into the security measures surrounding the cenote, to ensure that this kind of tragic event does not happen again in the future.
The man’s death occurred just after 4pm on Sunday, during what was believed to be a typical family holiday. The official report of the incident detailed how the man jumped into the water after his daughter lost her balance in her kayak, barely managing to save her before drowning.
Upon realizing that the man was no longer swimming, others enjoying the cenote rushed to pull him out of the water. Local rescuers were also on the scene but failed to resuscitate the man in time to save his life.
Authorities have since closed the cenote as it clearly lacked sufficient safety measures to prevent such a tragic incident, including safety vests or attentive lifeguards.
Encantado ‘Enchanted’ Cenote is a very popular open water cenote surrounded by mangroves, with a wooden platform for snorkeling as well as several kayaks and paddleboards. Various travel blogs that have written about the cenote have expressed the water depth and advise all tourists to be competent swimmers before visiting.
Many visitors consider cenotes to be a much safer environment to swim than the ocean, which often has large waves or strong undertow that can drag visitors out to sea. Cenotes are closed to open water, which makes them quieter and arguably safer places to swim. However, the tourist hotspots still pose a threat to even the most experienced swimmers, with sharp rocks, hidden nooks and irritating flora.
Authorities in Tulum should now retrain new lifeguards and implement better backup techniques to prevent this event from happening again in the future. Safety measures should be reinforced with the addition of signage indicating the depth of the lake and warning visitors that there is a potential danger of drowning.
Baby and adult life jackets should also be available, allowing lifeguards to rescue visitors if they fall into the lake. Finally, tourists should only swim in the cenotes during opening hours, as swimming afterwards could lead to an accident that no one could respond to.
These aren’t the only problems cenotes in the Mexican Caribbean have been experiencing recently: Last month, public health authorities in Quintana Roo told the public that high levels of E.Coli bacteria had been found in various cenotes across the state, which poses a huge health problem. risk for holidaymakers wishing to swim there.
The Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks in Tulum initially conducted a water quality test in June, describing the high level of infection the popular cenotes were carrying.
The cenotes most affected by this discovery are the Cristal, Calavera and Casa cenotes in Tulum. The level of harmful bacteria in the water exceeded the healthy exposure limit, leading authorities to conclude that tourists should avoid visiting them for their own protection.
In light of this horrific accident, tourists wishing to visit Cenote Encantado or any other cenote in Quintana Roo are encouraged to visit with a guide or tour company. This will ensure that emergency services will be accessible in the event of an emergency and that safety measures will be given priority at every visit.
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