TOURISTS won’t stop visiting an abandoned town in Australia that’s been described as the “most contaminated place on the planet” – even though the toxic air can be deadly.
Wittenoom in the Pilbara region of Western Australia had once been a bustling mining town.
It roared into life in 1943, when mining for blue asbestos first began.
At the time, asbestos was a lucrative industry and it soon became the biggest town in the region.
Thousands of men and women worked for the mines – and many more, including children, lived around it.
When the mines closed in 1966, life slowly drained from the town.
But it’s not just any ghost town – Wittenoom has a killer past.
Over 2,000 workers and residents have died as a result of asbestos diseases to date according to the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia.
And the air remains toxic with asbestos today – so much so, it was taken off maps and road signs in a bid to discourage people from visiting.
The government started demolishing buildings and sealing off the waste dumps from the mines, and it was disconnected from the national grid.
Larry Graham, a former MP for Pilbara, said: “The truth is there is not one good reason why anyone should do anything other than put a bulldozer through the joint.
“It cannot be cleaned up, it is extraordinarily dangerous, and it is the most contaminated place on the planet.”
What is asbestos and why is it so dangerous?
Asbestos is a mineral substance that’s resistant to fire, heat and electricity, and can even absorb sound.
Chrysotile, white asbestos, is the most common type of fibre.
Amphibole fibres include brown and blue asbestos, and are not use as often.
It has been linked to a number of deadly diseases, including cancer and asbestosis.
If inhaled, its harmful effects may not be noticed in the human body for as long as 15 years.
Earlier this year, the last residents were told that they would be kicked out for good, despite their protests.
But the town, located on the edge of Karijini National Park, has become a surprise hit with tourists despite health warnings.
There are hundreds of photos of tourists visiting the site on Instagram, some even photographing themselves near the warning signs.
Some have even called it a “bucket-list” location.
And according to ABC, there are even rumours of guided tours in the area.
For would be tourists, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Lands Ben Wyatt has just one piece of advice.
He told nine.com.au: “I have a simple message for anyone thinking of travelling to Wittenoom. Don’t. These warnings signs are not there for decoration or to add your Instagram collection. They are serious warnings about serious health consequences.
“I can’t stress enough that it is particularly foolish to travel to Wittenoom. There are plenty of gorges in WA which do not bring with them the threat of a fatal consequences.”
Chernobyl, another dark tourist site, will soon become an official attraction.
There are also many other ghost towns around the world that attracts tourists.
In Italy, there’s a ghost town that’s so haunted, the locals won’t even say its name.
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