Siberians flock to toxic lake for 'Maldives' selfies

A woman poses in front of an artificial pond outside Novosibirsk Russia in this image posted to Instagram in June

A woman poses in front of an artificial pond outside Novosibirsk Russia in this image posted to Instagram in June

The calm turquoise waters are a magnet for Instagrammers desperate to take the ideal selfie.

They explained the water has a high alkaline level, it may cause allergic reactions, and if you get in, the muddy lake bed could make it near impossible for you to get out.

A picturesque Siberian lake nicknamed the "Novosibirsk Maldives" has been declared unfit for selfie-takers by a Russian power company, Siberian Generating Company (SGK), which uses the lake as an ash dump for its nearby power station.

The bright blue waters of the artificial pond are actually down to the unsafe calcium salts and other metal oxides which have been dumped in it from the coal-burning plant.

After realising their ash dump had become the "star of social networks", they made a decision to answer some of the commonly asked questions.

The Siberian Generating Company took to Russian social media website VK last month to clarify exactly what chemicals are in the water, attributing the color to "calcium salts and other metal oxides are dissolved in it".

"This lake is not a natural miracle at all, but an ash dump into which CHPP-5 [the coal plant] is dumping waste", reads a story from local news website NGS.ru. Its water has high alkaline environment. Not only is the water alkaline and potentially hazardous, the statement points out that "the bottom of the ash dump is muddy" and "getting out of the reservoir alone is nearly impossible".

The company went on to warn in capital letters: "THEREFORE, WE ASK YOU VERY MUCH THAT IN YOUR QUEST FOR A SELFIE YOU DON'T FALL DOWN INTO THE ASH DUMP!"

Many of the Instagrammers seemed to know about the lake's content, and even made comments about the taste of the water. Another caption under an image of two people on paddle boards translated to: "By the way - the last chemical analysis of the water showed that it is not so risky". Here's one guy's report, courtesy of an Instagram caption: "The next morning, my legs were slightly red and itchy day two, then it went [away]". "The place is really interesting although you can not swim there because of the high content of calcium and metal oxides which may cause allergies".

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