1 / 22

Chernobyl's Legacy

CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 2006: On 26th April, 1986, at 1.23am the world's worst nuclear disaster happened at Reactor Number 4 (pictured) at Chernobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine. 190 tons of highly radioactive material were released into the atmosphere destroying the lives and land of millions of people. The explosion exposed the people around Chernobyl to radiation 90 times greater than from the Hiroshima bomb. The UN estimates that 9 million people, including 4 million children, are affected by the disaster. Radiation specialists expect nearly 1 million people to develop cancer as a direct result of the accident. In Belarus, next door to Ukraine, almost 400,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and become environmental refugees as a result of the contamination left by the explosion. Around 2,000 towns and villages have been abandoned and become a radioactive desert, overgrown with poisoned vegetation and fenced off by barbed wire. 20 years after the disaster 99% of the land in Belarus is contaminated. 25% of Belarusan farmland is a nuclear wasteland. Thyroid cancer has increased by 2,400%. Congenital birth defects have increased by 250% and there has been a 1,000% increase in suicides in the contaminated areas. (Photo by Tom Stoddart/Exclusive by Getty Images)

Chernobyl today

Twenty-seven years on from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, a look at life inside the exclusion zone. The Chernobyl disaster that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine is considered to be the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe. The official Soviet casualty count of 31 deaths has been disputed, and long-term effects such as cancers and deformities are still being accounted for.