The Indian state of Goa has identified 24 “no-selfie zones” along its coastline after a spate of deaths and injuries on the beaches, while tourists were apparently clicking selfies.
Signs warning against taking selfies have sprung up in recent days on cliffs, popular beaches and swimming holes in the state, which attracts about 6 million tourists each year.
The safety push comes after two tourists from Tamil Nadu state died in separate incidents on 17 June after climbing on to rocky outcrops in the ocean to take selfies. Both were swept away by large waves and drowned, police said.
Warning signs are already posted in many areas considered to be dangerous but are routinely ignored.
“People are not taking responsibility for their safety,” said the head of the private lifesaving company that monitors beaches in the state, Ravi Shanker. “People don’t realise a dry surface now could be washed away in 20 seconds. And because people are looking at their mobiles their alertness levels are low.”
There are more selfie deaths in India than any other country in the world, according to a 2016 study. The survey found there were more than 127 reported deaths worldwide from selfies in 2014 and 2015 – most related to heights, vehicles or water.
Of those, 76 deaths occurred in India, including a 2014 incident in which 10 young people tried to take a selfie while on a lake in Maharashtra. They tipped the craft and seven died.
In another incident in January a man from Hyderabad was filming himself standing beside tracks as a train was passing. He misjudged the distance and was hit by the train and left with severe injuries.
Domestic tourism in India has surged as incomes have grown. “Many have never seen ocean before landing up in Goa,” Shanker said. “And that comes up with its own set of problems. Many are not aware of the dangers posed by waves and currents.”
Pakistan had nine selfie-related deaths, the second-highest number, while there were eight in the US.
A Briton and Australian were found dead this month at the foot of a 30-metre cliff in the Portuguese town of Ericeira. Rescue officials suspect the couple had been trying to take a selfie when they fell.