Instagram influencers criticised for 'insensitive' Chernobyl pics

Wednesday 12th June 2019 22:30 BST

The nuclear power plant, near the city of Pripyat in Ukraine, has seen a massive increase in tourism since the success of the Sky Atlantic/HBO miniseries, starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgard and Emily Watson.

But the site has also attracted some who seek an unusual backdrop for photos of themselves in the quest for likes and followers on social media.

Craig Mazin, who created the drama series, has now urged people to be sensitive.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion. But yes, I've seen the photos going around. If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed."

One Instagram user posed wearing a helmet and white coat inside the control room of the nuclear plant where the safety test went wrong 33 years ago, sparking the tragedy, in a photo that has since been removed from the social media site.

She later told Business Insider that she had not visited Chernobyl "as a tourist attraction or shooting spot because of the HBO series".

She added: "I have been visiting Chernobyl for the first time long before the series came out because I'm really interested in history and nuclear physics itself."

Some have pictured themselves touching the animals in the radioactive area while others pose on the furniture that was left behind when the city was abandoned.

Some have posed smiling in front of the Ferris wheel that was never used and one even posed half naked on the streets of the ghost town.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said that radioactive isotopes at the site "still linger [but] are at tolerable exposure levels for limited periods of time".

But it is not just the safety aspect that concerned other social media users - many deemed the photos insensitive.

"People died there in a very horrific way - have some respect," one said, while another described a photo as "stupid" and a third said they were "disrespectful in the extreme".

Responding to a photo of Instagram user nz.nik posing with her bra and knickers visible, a follower said: "This photo is disrespectful to the people who lost their lives. How insensitive can you be?"

Others said the photos were "opportunistic" and "dumb".

Chernobyl was the scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster in April 1986.

Thirty-one people were officially recorded as killed but estimates range from 4,000 to 93,000.

Without the bravery of those who risked their lives in the aftermath, that death toll could have stretched to millions.

Pripyat, about 70 miles north of Ukraine's capital Kiev, is one of the world's most polluted places and has only been open to tourists since 2011, although it can only be accessed as part of a licensed tour.

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