Chernobyl

Just before 1.30 am on Saturday 26th April 1986, a nuclear reactor exploded near the Ukrainian border with Belarus.

One man died immediately, buried in the rubble, one of a heart attack. Twenty-nine others suffered unimaginable pain as they slowly succumbed to the acute radiation exposure sustained in their attempts to limit the damage.

Over the following years, at least fifty emergency workers died of acute radiation syndrome and nine children died of radiation-induced thyroid cancer.

The WHO estimates 4,000 premature deaths due to increased radiation exposure among the former residents and clean-up crews, but some organisations put the threat much higher.

The explosion happened during a misguided “safety” test.

My sources

Chernobyl – History of a Tragedy. Written by Serhii Plokhy in 2018

Voices from Chernobyl: The oral history of a nuclear disaster. Written by Svetlana Alexievich in 1997. Translated by Keith Gessen in 2005.

Visiting Chernobyl: A considered guide for travellers: What you’ll see and what to know. By Bill Murray in 2003

Chernobyl Notebook. By Grigoriy Medvedev in 1987. Translated by S Zalygin