Thousands of discarded gas masks in the Chernobyl exclusion zone

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Chernobyl exclusion zone

The worst nuclear disaster in history took place on 26 April 1986, when an explosion occurred in nuclear reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The disaster resulted in the release of nuclear radiation and radioactive clouds that spread across the Soviet Union and western Europe.


Half a million people from across the USSR were deployed as 'liquidators' to decontaminate the area. Although less than hundred people lost their lives in the immediate disaster, estimates of long-term fatalities run into the tens of thousands. An Exclusion Zone in a 30km radius around the disaster zone was evacuated and will remain uninhabitable for the next 22,000 years.


The nearby city of Pripyat, once home to 49,000 people, now stands as a ghost town. Built in 1970, the city was a futuristic model of Soviet of sophistication. It provided luxurious apartments for the most prominent nuclear scientists and their families, and had an amusement park, swimming pool, plenty of cafes and restaurants, a cultural centre, cinema and a stadium. Today, abandoned living rooms remain as they were left behind during the evacuation.

The city of Pripyat was built in 1970 to house the workers of the nuclear power plant

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The dome of the exploded reactor No. 4 is visible from the roofs of the apartment blocks in Pripyat

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160 apartment blocks were built to house the workers of the power plant and their families

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Graffiti made by 'stalkers' on the Pripyat cultural centre - young Ukrainians who live to explore the forbidden Chernobyl exclusion zone

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The mythological figure of Prometheus was the symbol of young Pripyat

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The last remaining Lenin statue in Ukraine

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The now famous Ferris wheel of Pripyat amusement was opened just a few days before the disaster

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Luxurious housing facilities included a swimming pool, basketball court and plenty of play grounds

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School books and toys are still lying as they were left behind during the evacuation

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A doll placed on a beds in a nearby kindergarten

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The Duga radar station near Chernobyl was used as part of the Soviet missile defense system, but abandoned in 1989

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The exclusion zone has become a wildlife haven, and is now home to bears, wolves, foxes, boars and deer

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