‘Disrespectful’ Chernobyl tourists asked to avoid selfies
The town of Pripyat (pictured), about 110km north of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, is one of the world’s most polluted places and has only been open to tourists since 2011 through licensed tours.
Visitor numbers to the former nuclear power plant in Ukraine have risen since the television series was aired last month. Some tour companies reported a 40-per-cent increase in custom since the critically acclaimed Sky Atlantic programme was broadcast.
Tourists have been pictured beaming or posing provocatively amid the ruins, including one woman in a G-string.
Responding to a photo of Instagram user nz.nik posing with her underwear visible, a user commented: “This photo is disrespectful to the people who lost their lives. How insensitive can you be?”
Mazin, who also wrote the screwball comedy The Hangover Part II, tweeted: “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.”
The 1986 meltdown was responsible for around 4,000 deaths from radiation exposure, according to the World Health Organisation. But a 2005 report from the Chernobyl Forum said fewer than 50 people died from exposure to radiation while acknowledging that up to 9,000 people could eventually die. Greenpeace estimated the death toll at being as high as 93,000. The official Soviet death toll was 37.
There were around 5,000 reported cases of thyroid cancer, most of which were cured, which were caused by the contamination.
The exclusion zone spreads from Ukraine into Belarus, covering an area more than twice the size of London.
Visitors to Chernobyl do not need to wear protective suits but are told not to touch anything. They pass through passport checks and are scanned for radiation levels.
One Instagram user posed wearing a helmet and white coat inside the control room where the safety test went wrong in 1986, sparking the explosion. The photo has since been removed from the site.
She told the media she had not visited Chernobyl “as a tourist attraction or shooting spot because of the HBO series”.
“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,” the social media user said.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said radioactive isotopes at the site “still linger … at tolerable exposure levels for limited periods of time”.
Pripyat today. Picture credit: PXHere