PHOTOS: Siberians flock to toxic lake for 'Maldives' selfies

A young woman poses for pictures by a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)

Novosibirsk (Russia) - An industrial dump site in Siberia whose turquoise lake resembles a tropical paradise has become a magnet for Instagrammers who risk their health in the toxic water to wow online followers.

Bikini-clad models, paddle-boarders and romantic couples are using a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site -- nicknamed the local "Maldives" -- as background for their snaps, posing as if relaxing in a holiday paradise.

But the Siberian Generating Company, which owns the site, says the lake's bright colors are due to calcium oxides -- substances found in quicklime and harmful to humans -- diluted in shallow waters.

A spokeswoman told AFP that the site "isn't poisonous" but has very high acidity.

"The bottom of the ash disposal site is claylike, so if you fall there, it's hard to get out," she said.

She added that while the company has placed roadblocks, they can be easily circumvented on foot.

Despite the signs "Danger Zone", the photographers keep coming, driven by the quest for Instagram "likes".

"I found out about this place from friends," Alyona, a photographer, told AFP after taking pictures of a young woman posing in a bathing suit on the shore caked with white residue.

"Turns out it's a poisonous liquid and maybe we're risking getting poisoned by the air too," she said looking at the water.

"It's very pretty."

The best images are displayed on a special Instagram account called "Novosibirsk Maldives". Locals also refer to the site as "Maldivinsk". (AFP)

Photography by Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images

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A couple rests by a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A young woman poses for pictures by a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A couple walks by a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
Young people walk by a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A man takes a selfie picture by a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Novosibirsk energy plant's ash dump site - nicknamed the local "Maldives" - on July 11, 2019. (Photo: Rostislav Netisov/AFP/Getty Images)

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