‘Disaster tourism’ a headache for rescue teams in Kerala

The police made several announcements to  people gathered there, urging them to disperse.

Published: 19th October 2021 06:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th October 2021 06:18 AM   |  A+A-

Onlookers crowd on the bank of Pullakayar river at Kokkayar to watch the rescue operations on Sunday | Albin Mathew

Express News Service

KOCHI: While National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Fire and Rescue Services personnel were engaged in efforts to recover bodies buried underneath the debris, following the landslide at Makochi in Kokkayar on Sunday,  police personnel deployed in the region encountered another major worry — several people descending on the tragedy site for  a ringside view of ongoing rescue and relief work.  

The police made several announcements to  people gathered there, urging them to disperse.  Vehicles and ambulances could not proceed to the area as the road was blocked by several hundred onlookers. The narrow roads leading up to the KK Road were partially damaged and  movement of vehicles was not smooth.

Compounding the woes, the motorbikes and four-wheelers, on which these ‘visitors’, arrived lined both sides of the roads. Police and Fire and Rescue Services officers were unanimous in their view that steps should be taken to curtail ‘disaster tourism’. “ Groups comprising several people are arriving at the disaster spots and taking selfies, capturing videos and photos of rescue operations.

All of them are coming under the guise of lending a helping hand, but they are here to actually watch the proceedings. The flow of people hinders rescue operations,” said a Fire and Rescue Services officer engaged in rescue operations at Kokkayar.

On the very next day after tragedy struck, police had imposed severe restrictions on movement of vehicles. But these have since been relaxed as KK Road is a major link connecting two districts. Considering the situation, the police  issued a warning on its social media pages against visiting disaster-hit areas as they were not tourist centres. “The unnecessary journey to disaster-hit areas is hindering rescue operations.

Hence, the public should not travel to these places,” the State Police Media Centre said in an FB post. “When people flock to these spots, the number of vehicles on the roads also goes up naturally and the movement of rescuers and ambulances will be hit. The rescue team could not reach Makochi as road connectivity was totally disrupted owing to the flood,” said K L Daniel, a social worker at Mundakkayam.
A S Jojy, District Fire and Rescue Services Officer, Ernakulam, echoed the view ‘disaster tourism’ should be nipped in the bud.


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