It’s Darwin Awards time again! This edition comes from the beautiful region of Galicia in the northwest of Spain, where the Instagram generation have recently discovered a spectacular azure lake; one that makes a perfect background for showing off their figure.
Beautiful, isn’t it? There’s just one problem. The ‘lake’ is actually a disused tungsten mine, and the vivid colors actually signify chemical contamination.
This hasn’t stopped some people entering the water, however, leading to hospitalizations for skin rashes and stomach problems.
One influencer who entered the toxic water suffered an allergic reaction for two weeks, telling a local newspaper that things were “a little bad, yes, but the photo was worth it.”
The site, known as Monte Neme, was originally mined during World War 2 and has been left abandoned for decades. People’s renewed interest was piqued by some irresponsible promotion by the region’s tourism board.
“This is a mining landscape, which is devastated and unrestored but Galicia used it to promote tourism in the region as if it were an idyllic landscape,” Ramón Varela, environmental journalist and spokesperson for Salvemos Cabana, an association for the protection of natural and cultural heritage in the area, told Euronews.
“At the weekend, it’s a kind of pilgrimage and it’s a dangerous place because it’s a landscape caused by industrial liquids,” says Varela. “On the one hand, it is an area that’s easy to access and, on the other, the slopes are risky, reaching heights up to 30 meters.”
Salvemos Cabana is now lobbying the regional government to limit access to the lake, and provide clearer warnings of the dangers of the area.
Dr. Manuel Ferreiro, from the emergency department of the University Hospital of Coruña, explained in an interview with Cadena Cope that while a short dip will leave bathers with minor skin irritations, longer exposure can lead to more serious problems.
“If they take a bath in a timely manner, the most likely consequences are ocular and irritative problems, irritation of the ocular mucous membranes and skin irritations,” he said.
“If it is a prolonged bathing session and they accidentally drink some water, people can experience digestive disorders, vomiting and later diarrhea.”
Of course, it’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last time that people have foolishly risked their health and lives for the perfect snap. People in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk have also recently been falling ill after taking dips in a bright blue lake that is actually the toxic dumping ground for a nearby power plant.
However, the Instagrammers are not the only ones at fault. There are not enough signs warning about the dangers of the are and those that are there have no specific information on the water contamination levels.
A local group is calling on the regional government to limit access to the area and put up more warning signs about the dangers.
What do you think? Have you ever taken a risk for a good photo? Let us know in the comments below!
Here’s what people had to say about the situation
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