On Saturday (22 December), parts of western Indonesia were struck by a tsunami which was triggered by an erupting volcano. It swept through the Sunda Strait leaving 22,000 people homeless and 1,500 others injured. CNN reported that as of 26 December, at least 440 people have died with dozens of people who are still missing.
Just when the world is mourning this tragedy, it appears that the tsunami-hit areas have now become attractions to local tourists as people were seen taking selfies in one of the affected provinces, Banten.
A reporter from The Guardian spotted a group of cheerful ladies taking selfies featuring the aftermath of the tsunami in the background. The field was flooded and damaged farm machinery and cars were scattered all over the place.
Apparently, the group is from a Cilegon woman’s Islamic organisation and they drove two hours to the site to donate clothes for the tsunami victims. One of the group members, Solihat said,
“The photo is on Facebook as proof that we are really here and gave the aid. When people see photos of destruction, they realise that they’re in a better place.”
“Pictures of destruction will get more likes. Maybe it’s because it reminds people to be grateful.”
She added that “it’s okay” to take pictures at the scene if the intention was to share grief with other people, and not to show off on social media.
Understandably, the sight of tourists taking photos has caused uneasiness among the locals as they are trying to piece their life back together. For instance, 40-year-old Bahrudin who is the head of local farmers’ union said he was utterly disappointed with tourists trying to take close-up selfies with his damaged truck lying in the middle of the field.
Another 18-year-old tourist named Valentina Anastasia deliberately took a detour from Jakarta to Banten just to see the devastation here. She was also busy flooding her phone gallery with selfies. When asked how many pictures had she taken, she replied with a hearty laugh, “A lot! For social media, WhatsApp groups…”
It’s high time for the Indonesian government to purchase better tsunami detectors to give early warnings as the current equipment are unable to do so. Also, our prayers go to the victims of the tsunami and hopefully, they can receive all the aid they need to restart their lives.
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