31st anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster: Here's what happened

Apr 26, 2017, 13:30 IST | mid-day online correspondent

Chernobyl incidentPicture taken from a helicopter in April 1986 shows a general view of the destroyed 4th power block of Chernobyl's nuclear power plant few days after the catastrophe.Pic/AFP

April 26, 2016 marks the the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Thirty one years ago, an accidental explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant caused devastation in what was then part of the Soviet Union.

The incident

A botched test at the nuclear plant reactor four suffered a catastrophic power increase, leading to explosions. This resulted in dispersions of large quantities of radioactive fuel and core materials into the atmosphere.

There was a sudden surge of power output, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted a more extreme spike in power output occurred, which led a reactor vessel to rupture and a series of explosions. The resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive smoke into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. The plume went on to drift over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe. According to official post-Soviet data about 60% of the radioactive fallout landed in Belarus.

Chernobyl incidentTwo Soviet technicians control the level of water radioactivity in front of a group of Soviet and foreign newsmen who have been permitted to enter the Kiev area, on May 09,1986 in the 30 km forbidden area around Chernobyl.

The disaster released at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The after effects were devastationg with as many as 800,000 men risked their lives by exposing themselves to radiation in order to contain the situation. 25,000 of these have died and 70,000 are disabled.

Chernobyl incidentA picture dated 26 April 1996 for the 10th anniversary of the chernobyl disaster, showing the ghost city of Pripyat. This attractions park has been once local children's favourite place of rest.

What happened to Priypat - the city which housed Chernobyl plant employees ?

Named after the nearby Pripyat River, Pripyat was founded on 4 February 1970 in northern Ukraine. Built to house the employees of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant 4 kilometres away it became the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979, and had a population of about 50,000. 

Chernobyl incident

Bed's are pictured in a kindergarden in the ghost city of Pripyat on April 4, 2011. 

The disaster began during a systems test in 1986 at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant, which is near the city of Pripyat.

Haunting images of a once-busy city now abandoned looks like a scene straight from a horror film. The residents of the city which is now called as the 'ghost town' were evacuated in a major government operation just after a day of the incident.

Pripyat now lies within the Exclusion zone and remains uninhabited due to the high levels of radiation.

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