Photos: 30th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

By Giuliana Manca, Epoch Times
April 26, 2016 12:42 pm Last Updated: April 26, 2016 3:02 pm

The worst nuclear catastrophe the world has ever seen marks its 30th anniversary this year.

On April 26, 1986, at 1:23 a.m., technicians at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant conducting a test inadvertently caused reactor Number Four to explode.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pays his respects after laying flowers at the memorial near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant on April 26, 2016.  Ukraine marks 30 years since the world's worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl killed thousands and forced a global rethink about the wisdom of relying on atomic fuel. / AFP / Genya SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pays his respects after laying flowers at the memorial near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant on April 26, 2016. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The reactor—in then-USSR controlled Ukraine—contained over 200 tons of uranium. The explosion of the radioactive element flipped the 1,200 ton lid of the reactor into the air.

A plume of deadly, radioactive gas covered most of the Northern Hemisphere.

Two Soviet technicians control the level of water radioactivity in front of a group of Soviet and foreign newsmen who have been permitted to enter the Kiev area, on May 09,1986 in the 30 km forbidden area around Chernobyl after the nuclear plant No. 4 reactor's blast, on April 26, 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident of the 20th century. / AFP / TASS / -        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Two Soviet technicians control the level of water radioactivity in front of a group of Soviet and foreign newsmen who have been permitted to enter the Kiev area, on May 09, 1986, in the 30 km (18.6 mile) forbidden zone. (AFP/Getty Images)

Within a days of the disaster 32 people, many of them firemen sent to extinguish the blaze, died. Since then, estimates vary from 4,000 to 200,000 deaths that are attributed to illnesses resulting from the radioactive contamination.

Over 2.5 million Ukrainians suffer from health problems related to the blast, with 80,000 of them receiving a pension.

un policier contrôle, le 10 mai 1986, le niveau de radioactivité de véhicules quittant la zone interdite de 30 km autour de la centrale nucléaire de Tchernobyl, quelques jours après l'explosion du réacteur No 4 de l'installation, le 26 avril 1986, le plus grave accident nucléaire du XX siècle.A policeman checks the level of radioactivity on vehicles leaving the 30 km forbidden area around Chernobyl after the nuclear plant No. 4 reactor's blast, 26 April 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident of the 20th century. (Photo credit should read STF/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman checks the level of radioactivity on vehicles leaving the 30 km (18.6 mile) forbidden area around Chernobyl on May 10, 1986. (STF/AFP/Getty Images)

An aerial view of the Chernobyl nucler power plant, the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, is seen in April 1986, made two to three days after the explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine.  In front of the chimney is the destroyed 4th reactor.   (AP Photo)
An aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, is seen in April 1986, taken two to three days after the explosion. To the left of the chimney is the destroyed fourth reactor. (AP Photo)

FILE - This Friday, Oct. 13, 1991 file picture shows part of the collapsed roof at the Chernobyl, Ukraine nuclear power plant during a media tour of the facility, Ukraine. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion was only about 100 kilometers (65 miles) from my home in Kiev.  The Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion was only about 60 miles from photographer Efrem Lukatsky's  home, but he didnt learn about it until the next morning from a neighbor. Only a few photographers were allowed to cover the destroyed reactor and desperate cleanup efforts, and all of them paid for it with their health. I went a few months later, and have returned dozens of times.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
This Oct. 13, 1991, file picture shows part of the collapsed roof at the Chernobyl, Ukraine, nuclear power plant during a media tour of the facility. Only a few photographers were allowed to cover the destroyed reactor and desperate cleanup efforts, and all of them paid for it with their health. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

 

 

DONETSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 25: Photographs of victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident are displayed at the site of a memorial service to commemorate the annivesary on April 25, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. The accident, which took place in the northern part of Ukraine, is considered the worst nuclear accident in history. Pro-Russian activists have been occupying government buildings and demanding greater autonomy in at least ten Eastern Ukrainian cities in recent weeks, particularly Slovyansk, prompting the government in Kiev to threaten military action to retake control of the cities. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Photographs of victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident are displayed at the site of a memorial service to commemorate the anniversary on April 25, 2014, in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Chernobyl. (Google maps/screenshot)
Chernobyl. (Google maps/screenshot)

Authorities evacuated approximately 43,000 people from Pripyat in the days following the disaster. The city—with its high-rise apartment buildings, hospital, shops, schools, restaurants, cultural center and sports facilities—has remained a ghost-town ever since.

It lies only a few kilometers from the power plant, within the inner Exclusion Zone. 

FILE - in this Nov. 10, 2000, file photo the shattered remains of the control room for Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine. We reached the old control room, long and poorly lighted, with its damaged machinery, the place where the Soviet engineers threw a power switch for a routine test on that doomed night, and two explosions followed.  The Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion was only about 60 miles from photographer Efrem Lukatsky's  home, but he didnt learn about it until the next morning from a neighbor. Only a few photographers were allowed to cover the destroyed reactor and desperate cleanup efforts, and all of them paid for it with their health. I went a few months later, and have returned dozens of times. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
Taken November 10, 2000, this photo displays the shattered remains of the control room for Reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

PRIPYAT, UKRAINE - APRIL 09:  Small dosimeters that measure radiation dosage and used by emergency workers following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster lie scattered on the ground outside on April 9, 2016 in Pripyat, Ukraine. Pripyat, built in the 1970s as a model Soviet city to house the workers and families of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, now stands abandoned inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a restricted zone contaminated by radiation from the 1986 meltdown of reactor number four at the nearby Chernobyl plant in the world's worst civilian nuclear accident that spewed radiaoactive fallout across the globe. Authorities evacuated approximately 43,000 people from Pripyat in the days following the disaster and the city, with its high-rise apartment buildings, hospital, shops, schools, restaurants, cultural center and sports facilities, has remained a ghost-town ever since. The world will soon commemorate the 30th anniversary of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Today tour operators bring tourists in small groups to explore certain portions of the exclusion zone.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Small dosimeters that measure radiation dosage and used by emergency workers following the  disaster lie scattered on the ground outside on April 9, 2016 in Pripyat, Ukraine. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A restricted zone contaminated by radiation from the meltdown—the inner zone being 30 km (18.6 mile), the outer zone 2,600 square km (1,000 square mile)—is called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. 

The town of Pripyat was built in the 1970s as a model Soviet city to house the workers and families of the Chernobyl power plant.

General view of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant taken from the ghost city of Prypyat on April 8, 2016. Ukraine is preparing to mark 30 years since the Chernobyl disaster, the world's worst nuclear accident whose death toll remains a mystery and which continues to jeopardise the local population's health. More than 200 tonnes of uranium remain inside the reactor that exploded three decades ago at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, raising fears there could be more radioactive leaks if the ageing concrete structure covering the stricken reactor collapses.   / AFP / SERGEI SUPINSKY        (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
General view of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant taken from the ghost city of Prypyat on April 8, 2016. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

The picture shows a general view to Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant from ghost city of Prypyat on April 8, 2016. Ukraine is preparing to mark 30 years since the Chernobyl disaster, the world's worst nuclear accident whose death toll remains a mystery and which continues to jeopardise the local population's health. More than 200 tonnes of uranium remain inside the reactor that exploded three decades ago at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, raising fears there could be more radioactive leaks if the ageing concrete structure covering the stricken reactor collapses.   / AFP / Sergei SUPINSKY        (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
The picture shows a general view to Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant from ghost city of Prypyat on April 8, 2016. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

A photo taken on January 22, 2016 shows a ferris wheel between abandoned buildings in the ghost city Pripyat near to Chernobyl Power Plant. On April 26, 2016 world will mark 30th anniversary of the one of the worst nuclear catastrophes. / AFP / GENYA SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on January 22, 2016, shows a ferris wheel between abandoned buildings in the ghost city Pripyat near to Chernobyl Power Plant. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities evacuated approximately 43,000 people from Pripyat in the days following the disaster and the city, with its high-rise apartment buildings, hospital, shops, schools, restaurants, cultural center and sports facilities, has remained a ghost-town ever since.

It lies only a few kilometers from the power plant, within the inner Exclusion Zone. 

A photo taken on January 22, 2016 shows a coat of arms of the former Soviet Union on the roof of an apartment building in the ghost city Pripyat near to Chernobyl Power Plant. On April 26, 2016 world will mark 30th anniversary of the one of the worst nuclear catastrophes. / AFP / GENYA SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on January 22, 2016, shows a coat of arms of the former Soviet Union on the roof of an apartment building in the ghost city Pripyat. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Abandoned gas masks lay on the floor in a class room in a school 26 May 2003 of the deserted town of Prypyat, adjacent to the Chernobyl nuclear site. Prypyat which had 45,000 residents was totally evacuated in the first three days after the reactor number four at the Chernobyl plant blew up  at 1:23am 26 April 1986, spewing out a radioactive cloud and contaminating much of Europe. An estimated 15,000 to 30,000 people have died in the aftermath.  Over 2,5 million Ukranians suffer from health problems related to the Chernobyl blast, with 80,000 of them receiving a pension. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY  (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Abandoned gas masks lay on the floor in a classroom in a school May 26, 2003, of the deserted town of Prypyat.  (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

FILE - In this Nov.10, 2000 file photo  radioactive contaminated vehicles lay dormant near the Chernobyl nuclear power plan. Some 1,350 Soviet military helicopters, buses, bulldozers, tankers, transporters, fire engines and ambulances were used while fighting against the April 26, 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl. All were irradiated during the clean-up operation. Thirty years ago, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded in Ukraine, spreading radioactive material across much of the Northern Hemisphere. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion was only about 60 miles from photographer Efrem Lukatsky's  home, but he didnt learn about it until the next morning from a neighbor. Only a few photographers were allowed to cover the destroyed reactor and desperate cleanup efforts, and all of them paid for it with their health. I went a few months later, and have returned dozens of times. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
In this November 10, 2000, photo, radioactive contaminated vehicles lay dormant near the power plant. Some 1,350 Soviet military helicopters, buses, bulldozers, tankers, transporters, fire engines and ambulances were used while fighting against nuclear accident. All were irradiated during the clean-up operation. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

A photo taken on January 22, 2016 shows a crucifix and a radiation sign in front of apartment buildings in the ghost city Pripyat near to Chernobyl Power Plant. On April 26, 2016 world will mark 30th anniversary of the one of the worst nuclear catastrophes. / AFP / GENYA SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Taken on January 22, 2016, this photo shows a crucifix and a radiation sign in front of apartment buildings in the ghost city Pripyat. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

CHERNOBYL - JANUARY 25: The remnants of an abandoned class room is seen in a pre-school in the deserted town of Pripyat on January 25, 2006 in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Prypyat and the surrounding area will not be safe for human habitation for several centuries. Scientists estimate that the most dangerous radioactive elements will take up to 900 years to decay sufficiently to render the area safe.   (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
The remnants of an abandoned class room is seen in a pre-school in the deserted town of Pripyat on January 25, 2006. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Large portions of the inner and outer Chernobyl Exclusion Zone remain contaminated. A consortium of western companies is building a movable enclosure called the New Safe Confinement that will cover the reactor remains and its fragile sarcophagus in order to prevent further contamination.

Pripyat and the surrounding area will not be safe for human habitation for several centuries. Scientists estimate that the most dangerous radioactive elements will take up to 900 years to decay sufficiently to render the area safe.

PRIPYAT, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 30:  The former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, including destroyed reactor four (C), as well as the New Safe Confinement structure (R) that will one day enclose the remains of reactor four, stand behind the abandoned city of Pripyat on September 30, 2015 near Pripyat, Ukraine. Pripyat lies only a few kilometers from Chernobyl and was built in the 1970s to house the plant's workers and their families. On April 26, 1986, technicians at Chernobyl conducting a test inadvertently caused reactor number four to explode, sending plumes of highly radioactive particles and debris into the atmosphere. Authorities evacuated 120,000 people from the area, including 43,000 from Pripyat. Today Pripyat is a ghost-town, its apartment buildings, shops, restaurants, hospital, schools, cultural center and sports facilities derelict and its streets overgrown with trees. The city lies in the inner exclusion zone around Chernobyl where hot spots of persistently high levels of radiation make the area uninhabitable for thousands of years to come.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
The former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, including destroyed reactor four (center), as well as the New Safe Confinement structure (right) that will one day enclose the remains of reactor four, stand behind the abandoned city of Pripyat on September 30, 2015. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A woman holds, 02 October 1989 in the Tchernobyl area, a disabled newly born pig victim of the radioactivity fall-out of the Chernobyl power plant accident in 1986.   (Photo credit should read LARS GRANSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
On October 2, 1989, in the Chernobyl area, a woman holds a disabled newly-born pig, victim of the radioactivity fall-out of the Chernobyl power plant accident in 1986. (LARS GRANSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Chernobyl, UKRAINE:  Stray dogs run in front of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant during a drill organized by Ukraine's Emergency Ministry, 08 November 2006. Emloyees and rescue workers improved their activity in case the "sarcophagus" covering the destroyed 4th power block collapses.  AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY  (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Stray dogs run in front of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant during a drill organized by Ukraine’s Emergency Ministry, November 8, 2006. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

A photo taken on January 22, 2016 shows wild Przewalski's horses on a snow covered field in the Chernobyl exclusions zone. In 1990, a handful of endangered Przewalski's (Dzungarian) horses were brought in the exclusions zone to see if they would take root. They did so with relish, and about a hundred of them now graze the empty but sustenant fields. Przewalski's horses are the last surviving subspecies of wild horse. / AFP / GENYA SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on January 22, 2016, shows wild Przewalski’s horses on a snow covered field in the exclusion zone. In 1990, a handful of endangered Przewalski’s (Dzungarian) horses were brought in the exclusions zone to see if they would take root. They did so with relish, and about a hundred of them now graze there. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

CHORNOBYL, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 29: A man walks past a mural on the wall of a museum commemorating the Chernobyl nuclear disaster with an exploding reactor core and images of storks, the Ukrainian national bird, schackled with bits of barbed wire on September 29, 2015 in Chornobyl, Ukraine. On April 26, 1986, technicians at Chernobyl conducting a test inadvertently caused reactor number four, which contained over 200 tons of uranium, to explode, flipping the 1,200 ton lid of the reactor into the air and sending plumes of highly radioactive particles and debris into the atmosphere in a deadly cloud that reached as far as western Europe. 32 people, many of them firemen sent to extinguish the blaze, died within days of the accident, and estimates vary from 4,000 to 200,000 deaths since then that can be attributed to illnesses resulting from Chernobyl's radioactive contamination. Today large portions of the inner and outer Chernobyl Exclusion Zone that together cover 2,600 square kilometers remain contaminated. A consortium of western companies is building a movable enclosure called the New Safe Confinement that will cover the reactor remains and its fragile sarcophagus in order to prevent further contamination.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A man walks past a mural on the wall of a museum commemorating the Chernobyl nuclear disaster with an exploding reactor core and images of storks, the Ukrainian national bird, shackled with bits of barbed wire on September 29, 2015, in Chernobyl, Ukraine. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A photo taken on January 22, 2016 shows snow covered ride at the amusement park in the ghost city Pripyat near to Chernobyl Power Plant. On April 26, 2016 world will mark 30th anniversary of the one of the worst nuclear catastrophes. / AFP / GENYA SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on January 22, 2016, shows snow covered ride at the amusement park in the ghost city Pripyat near the Chernobyl Power Plant. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

PRIPYAT, UKRAINE - APRIL 09:  Tourists on a guided tour snap photos of one another outside an abandoned shop and apartment building on April 9, 2016 in Pripyat, Ukraine. Pripyat, built in the 1970s as a model Soviet city to house the workers and families of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, now stands abandoned inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a restricted zone contaminated by radiation from the 1986 meltdown of reactor number four at the nearby Chernobyl plant in the world's worst civilian nuclear accident that spewed radiaoactive fallout across the globe. Authorities evacuated approximately 43,000 people from Pripyat in the days following the disaster and the city, with its high-rise apartment buildings, hospital, shops, schools, restaurants, cultural center and sports facilities, has remained a ghost-town ever since. The world will soon commemorate the 30th anniversary of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Today tour operators bring tourists in small groups to explore certain portions of the exclusion zone.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Tourists on a guided tour snap photos of one another outside an abandoned shop and apartment building on April 9, 2016, in Pripyat, Ukraine. Tour operators bring tourists in small groups to explore certain portions of the exclusion zone. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A man walks through the "ghost town" of Pripyat near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on April 22, 2016.  April 26, 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. / AFP / GENYA SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks through the “ghost town” of Pripyat on April 22, 2016. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

CHORNOBYL, UKRAINE - APRIL 26:  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks on the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear in front of the sarcophagus that encloses stricken reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 2016 near Chornobyl, Ukraine. On April 26, 1986 workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant inadvertantly caused a meltdown in reactor number four, causing it to explode and send a toxic cocktail of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere in the world's worst civilian nuclear incident. The fallout spread in plumes across the globe, covering much of Europe and reaching as far as Japan. Today large swathes in Ukraine and Belarus remain too contaminated for human habitation and strong evidence points to ongoing adverse health impacts for people in the larger region.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks on the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear in front of the sarcophagus that encloses stricken reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 2016, near Chornobyl, Ukraine. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)