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Bali of the Urals: Russian influencers flood to toxic lake near site of nuclear disaster for pics as Covid-19 halts travel abroad

Nicknamed ‘Bali of the Urals’, the Kaolin Quarry is in Kyshtym near the city of Chelyabinsk, 1500km (932 miles) east of Moscow. However, while it looks good in photos, taking a dip there would be ill-advised. The azure color of the water comes from dangerous chemicals, the result of a reaction between the kaolin mineral, used for ceramics, and H2O.

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The danger doesn’t seem to bother the locals, however, with regional website 74.ru putting the location at the top of its list for places to visit in May.

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Although it only recently gained national fame, the beautifully colored lake has been well-known in the area for some time, with reviews dubbing it a ‘must see’ since 2015.

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The water feature was first formed in 2011 when local quarry owners stopped pumping liquid out of the area and it began to flood. The resulting stunning turquoise vista turned the industrial site into a spot for photoshoots.

“Although there are many lakes around Kyshtym, many people prefer to come here on vacation,” Alina Shmarina, the head of the Kyshtym Tourism Development Center, told Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. “In fact, access to the quarry is prohibited. And it’s not safe here. But the owners turn a blind eye.”

In the 1950s, the town of Kyshtym was at the center of a huge nuclear accident, when a disaster at the Mayak nuclear production site caused around 10,000 people to be evacuated. It remains one of the worst atomic disasters in history, ranked below just Chernobyl and the Fukushima nuclear disasters by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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