On 26 April 1986, the unthinkable happened near the Ukrainian town of Pripyat: two massive steam explosions ruptured No. 4 Reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, immediately killing 30 people and setting off the worst nuclear accident in history. The explosions were followed by an open-air reactor core fire that released huge amounts of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere for the next nine days, spreading across the Soviet Union, parts of Europe, and especially neighbouring Belarus, where around 70% of the waste landed.
The following clean-up operation involved more than half a million personnel at a cost of $68 billion, and a further 4,000 people were estimated to have died from disaster-related illnesses in the following 20 years. Some 350,000 people were evacuated as a result of the accident (including 95 villages in Belarus), and much of the area returned to the wild, with the nearby city of Pripyat now a ghost town.
Chernobyl provides a photographic exploration of the catastrophe and its aftermath in 180 authentic photos. See the twisted wreckage of No. 4 Reactor, the cause of the nuclear disaster; marvel at historic photos of the clean-up operation, with helicopters spraying decontamination liquid and liquidators manually clearing radioactive debris; see the huge cooling pond used to cool the reactors, and which today is home to abundant wildlife, despite the radiation; explore the ghost town of Pripyat, with its decaying apartment blocks, empty basketball courts, abandoned amusement park, wrecked schools, and deserted streets.