Disaster Sites Are Not for Tourists

January 9, 2021, was the beginning of a quite striking year for Indonesia. In the midst of pandemic conditions that are still uncertain and daily confirmed cases are still going up, 2 accidents occurred at almost the same time. The fall of Sriwijaya Air SJ 182 and a landslide in Sumedang. The second incident is more relevant to me because it is located in the city where I live.

As of today, 11 January 2021, 13 people have been declared dead and 26 people are still missing. For the size of a landslide disaster that occurred at one location, the number of casualties was too large.

How come?

When talking about disaster risk theory, it is clear that the large hazard and vulnerability factors are supported by the low capacity of our community.

For your information, the first landslide occurred in the afternoon around 15.30 and 8 people were declared missing. Several hours later, around 19.30 WIB, several landslides occurred. This subsequent landslide caused more casualties.

In fact, more than 10 victims were residents who came to the area to see the landslide location and the disaster management process. This act could be explained as disaster tourism. Disaster tourism is the act of visiting locations that have been subjected to man-made or natural environmental disasters. It is considered a sub-sector of dark tourism.

Many would agree that tourists should not visit disaster sites at all, particularly if this is during the immediate aftermath. Problems can include poor tourist behavior or a lack of respect towards the local community and its peoples. Tourists may also be a hindrance instead of a help. They may get in the way of lifesaving efforts or put themselves in unnecessary danger.

I don’t want to judge our society who is full of curiosity or less aware of personal safety, but there must be lessons learned. We need to prevent losing more lives.

This is not the first time that I have seen some people who came to a disaster area just because they were curious or just looking around. Whether they realize it or not, they are in the red zone. The danger was still there and their lives were at stake.

And it was proven in this landslide. Just like the title of this article, I would like to highlight that a disaster location is not a tourist site.

Let me repeat it: not a tourist site

The location of the disaster is a red zone where only people with certain capacities can go. If you don’t have that capacity or if you do not have anything to contribute on the site … please, just stay at home!
If you still want to ‘stick to it’, yeah … you know the risk.

Clearly, you don’t!


Septian Firmansyah
Humanitarian n DRR Activist


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