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Instagram influencers criticised for ‘insensitive’ Chernobyl pics

9:58 am, 12th June 2019

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.

Some of the adventurers are risk-takers, some are simply curious.

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.

One, Julia Baessler, posted photos of herself to her 319,000 followers, where she dons a reflective pose while sitting on a rusting swing in the town.

She also poses 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.

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 was 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.