Photo Gallery: Chernobyl, 20 Years After the Disaster

Photo: Abandoned kindergarten classroom
Email to a Friend


See Next Photo >>

Childrens toys and gas masks litter a kindergarten classroom in Pripyat, Ukraine. The abandoned town sits just two miles (three kilometers) from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which exploded in the predawn hours of April 26, 1986. All 50,000 Pripyat residents were evacuated after the accident, and the town, which was created for Chernobyl employees, has not been repopulated.

A plant reactor exploded during a failed cooling system test, igniting a massive fire that burned for ten days. The accident, which was blamed on design deficiencies and lax operating procedures, released radioactivity equivalent to 400 times that of the Hiroshima bomb.

More than 350,000 people were displaced in the weeks after the explosion, and scientists estimate up to 90,000 square miles (233,000 square kilometers) of land in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia (all part of the Soviet Union at the time) were contaminated with unhealthy levels of radioactive elements.

See Next Photo >>

NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS




ADVERTISEMENT

 

50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.