Fourth set of human remains found at drought-stricken Lake Mead

BOULDER CITY, Nev. — A fourth set of human remains have been found at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Las Vegas, where the country’s largest reservoir is located, authorities said.

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The discovery comes 12 days after a third set of human remains was found in the same area, KSNV-TV reported. It is the fourth time since May 1 that remains have been uncovered at the lake, as drought in the western U.S. has forced the shoreline to recede at the reservoir, located on the Colorado River behind the Hoover Dam.

In a news release, the National Park Service said that rangers received an emergency call reporting the remains at Swim Beach at around 11:15 a.m. PDT on Saturday.

Rangers and a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police dive team retrieved the remains, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

The Clark County Medical Examiner has been contacted to determine the cause of death, the NPS said in its release.

On May 1, a barrel containing human remains was found near Hemenway Harbor, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Police believe the body was dumped in the lake either in the 1970s or 1980s.

Less than a week later, human skeletal remains were found at Callville Bay, according to the newspaper.

Most recently, partial human remains were found on July 25 at Swim Beach. The Clark County coroner said the remains were partially encased in mud and could not determine the gender of the remains.

The discoveries have sparked speculation about unsolved missing person and murder cases dating back decades, the Review-Journal reported. That includes the possibility of deaths tied to organized crime in Las Vegas, which is 30 minutes from the lake.

The reservoir’s levels dipped to historic lows this year amid a drought, falling to 1,041 feet on Saturday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Dead pool -- when low levels prevent the water from flowing to a dam -- would occur at 895 feet, ABC News and NBC News previously reported.