Every tenth villager of Kazakhstan’s Kalachi has unexpectedly fallen asleep in broad daylight some unable to wake up for several days. Despite numerous attempts to find the cause of the inexplicable disorder, the Sleepy Hollow riddle remains unsolved. Over 600 residents of Kalachi village in Kazakhstan’s north may have never read Washington Irving’s ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ or watched the popular American TV series or film but they refer to their homeland as “Sleepy Hollow,” as everyone there is scared of an indiscriminate illness that has no cure.
The ailment sees people suddenly falling asleep out of the blue and sometimes remaining that way for several days.
In one of the most recent cases eight children fell asleep within the space of an hour on the first day of school in September. In another a total of 20 people fell unconscious at around the same time and couldn’t be roused for several days. One ambulance driver even reported encountering as many as 60 people who were suffering from the condition during his visit to the village to investigate the phenomenon.
Whole groups of doctors, virologists, radiologists and toxicologists have all been to the village at various times but to date nobody has been able to find a conclusive explanation.
A Russia Today documentary detailing the mystery can be viewed below.
People in Kalachi have been suffering from the “sleep epidemic” as they call it for the past couple of years. Everyone in the village has a family member or a friend who’s fallen asleep for no apparent reason, with over 100 people having experienced it by now some more than once according to locals.
In one of the recent cases, children started falling down on the first day of school in September, with eight kids falling asleep within one hour. Before that, 20 people fainted and slept for several days, and “at least 60 at once in the winter…we laid them in rows,” an ambulance worker told RTD, which traveled to the area to undertake its own investigation.
“If you try to wake him, it seems he wants to open his eyes but can’t. He’s sleeping and sleeping…” Igor Samusenko, father of a child who is suffering from the illness, told RTD. People have also described further symptoms, including hallucinations (one boy was picking snails off himself), memory loss, dizziness, and nausea. “I’m weak, my legs feel heavy, as if I’m wearing a hundred pairs of boots, and my head is spinning,” one woman told RTD. Other patients behave “like they’re drunk.” It’s difficult to warn others and ask for help, as “your tongue gets twisted.”
People suffering from the sleeping sickness are diagnosed with various diseases. While children are being cured from toxic encephalopathy, a brain malfunction, adults are said to have suffered strokes. But after several days in intensive care, they’re back to normal life until they feel abnormally sleepy again. Some doctors say that mass psychosis is to blame.
Many believe the extreme sleepiness is caused by the wind blowing from a mine near Kalachi. In Soviet times, the village was deemed top secret due to uranium mining. The mine closed over two decades ago, and the area is now partly abandoned. What used to be a prosperous neighborhood is now left in ruins.