Chernobyl, April 26th 1986. It was Saturday morning when an explosion occurred during a routine experiment taking place on the 4th reactor of the nuclear plant. Right after, a second explosion, the roof of the building gets destroyed, flames break out and the radioactive core elements are channelled uncontrollably into the environment. The largest nuclear accident in history was now a fact. Dozens of people die immediately and hundreds get sick. The radioactivity, that has been spread, makes entire areas uninhabitable, and entire villages are buried under the soil.
Twenty-nine years after the disaster we headed into the dead zone with a radius of 30 km around the nuclear plant. As we approached, we found fewer cars, the human presence was reduced and culture, in the sense that we know it, ceased to apply. At the first checkpoint two large signs were there to remind you where you are, ” Caution, radioactive area, restricted area, Chernobyl zone ”. The zone is like being another country, to its own standards and a separate passport control.
Just 15km away– inside the 30km exclusion zone, there were living some 4,000 people. They spend 15 days inside and 15 days outside. They were the workers who were building the New Safe Confinement. This was a structure to contain the nuclear reactor that was currently under construction. It was slated to be finished at the end of next year. Some 4km north of the doomed nuclear power plant was the abandoned city of Pripyat. Before the nuclear disaster, it was a thriving Soviet city and home to some 49,000 people. Today it is a ghost town. The hospital, school rooms and homes are all deserted, crumbling and eerie.