A hostage situation in the heart of Sydney hasn’t stopped some passers-by making light of the whole affair, snapping selfies and even knocking back booze while dozens of lives remain at risk. The behavior has sparked fierce criticism on social media.

Twelve hours into the siege, up to 40 people are believed to remain hostage at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, characterized as the “civic heart” of Australia’s largest city.

READ MORE: #illridewithyou: Aussies call for support, tolerance to Muslims amid hostage crisis

Although five people have managed to escape, the situation remains tense amidst ongoing negotiations with the hostage taker, an alleged Islamist who claims to have placed explosives in the building.

Despite the gravity of the situation, some people have taken a flippant attitude to the entire affair, smiling big for the camera and snapping selfies as close to the scene as possible.

The incidents have caused a stir on social media, with many outright bashing the culprits for their insensitivity.

“Selfie disgrace, how can people pose for pictures at scene of Sydney terror siege?” former Sunday Times columnist Jani Allan wrote on Twitter.

“People taking selfies at the area around the Sydney hostage situation. We have reached peak selfie and it is terrible,” writer Ian Miles Cheong wrote.

Journalist and LSE media professor Charlie Beckett took a step back and judged their behavior within the context of the current social media environment.

“They say news is a spectacle so I suppose taking selfies in front of potential tragedies has a social media logic,” he wrote. Others used the negative press generated by the selfie scandal or otherwise insensitive behavior to bring attention to the tolerance campaign #illridewithyou.

“People stressing about #sydneyselfie – there will always be rubber neckers. Instead, take a look at the positive aspect of #illridewithyou,” Shaun Hinds wrote.