This past Sunday, there was an explosive eruption at La Soufriere, the 30th such event since the volcano moved into the present phase of seismic activity on April 9. Just hours before that, at least three young men were at its summit, despite such visits being strictly prohibited.
One of the three youths has been a regular on the mountain, filming his outings and posting them to social media for the purpose of attracting likes and followers and feeding his reckless attention-seeking habit.
He has been given the moniker ‘Lava Man’ for obvious reasons and despite being warned by many about the extreme danger of being on the mountain at this time, the young man continues his visits, seemingly unconcerned about the risk to his life and limb.
He apparently goes on these suicide missions because the official updates from the National Emergency Management Organization and the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) are not enough for him. As he told a local media house recently, he does not like hearsay and prefers experiencing things for himself.
Adding another layer of worry is the fact that Lava Man’s visits are encouraged by a growing following of sceptics who falsely claim that the UWI-SRC has been withholding information from the public, hence this young “hero” risked his life to bring “the truth” to them by showing them what was happening, and it is he who saved thousands of lives by sounding the alarm. What nonsense!
If there is anyone out there who had not heard the warnings from the scientists, it is because they did not want to hear. For others, something is only assessed to be a threat if it can be seen or felt. So, he is encouraged by these conspiracy theorists to continue to endanger his life to bring them “the truth”.
Many others may not believe that the scientists are withholding “the truth”, but by sharing or liking his posts, they are also complicit, as are those who are indifferent or refuse to rebuke the attention seeker’s behaviour.
On his latest outing, “Lava Man” and his companions missed an explosion by just hours, prompting Professor Richard Robertson, the lead scientist of the volcano monitoring team to comment under the video posted on YouTube that what he was doing was “simply mad” and that he had told him this personally. In his comment, Professor Robertson gave details about the horrible ways he could be killed should the volcano erupt explosively while he is on the mountain, and appealed to him to stop putting himself and others at risk.
He also told him that his actions were not useful, but “simply dotish”.
Professor Robertson could not have put it any better.
This is not the time for sensitivity in the choice of words or political correctness. This is a matter of life or death; Lava Man’s behaviour needed to be called out for what it is – doltish.
Say it again, Professor!