On April 26, 1986, a devastating nuclear disaster took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Soviet Union. The incident is back in the public consciousness right now due to the success of the HBO show Chernobyl that dramatizes the events surrounding the accident.
Much of what happened before, during, and after the 1986 event is still the cause of much debate due to the secrecy of the Soviet Union. But one thing is for sure: the Chernobyl accident is considered the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history.
Here are 10 facts about the terrifying Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath.
1. Casualty rate: Unknown
The number of victims that can be blamed on the accident ranges anywhere from 4,000 to 90,000. Two people died in the initial blast, 29 people died from radiation sickness in the months after the accident, and there are literally thousands that may die from radiation-related causes in the future.
2. A gruesome death
One of the first firefighters who responded to the accident scene was Vasily Ignatenko. He suffered a terrible two-week death from his exposure to radiation, including excreting blood and mucus 25 times a day and coughing up pieces of his own internal organs.
3. Other ailments
People in neighboring areas had to flee their homes and complained of such symptoms as “black spots,” bodies getting “fat, like a barrel,” and turning “black, like coal, and shrinking.”
Because women were terrified of possible radiation poisoning, there were an estimated 100,000-200,000 abortions in Europe after the Chernobyl disaster.
5. Dead trees everywhere
The area around the nuclear power plant became known as The Red Forest because the trees died and turned a ginger color after the accident.
Although it’s illegal to live in the area around the plant known as the Zone of Alienation, or the Exclusion Zone, it’s estimated that 130-150 people still live there, many of them older women taking care of their family’s land.
7. Poor animals
If you’ve seen the show, you know that people were not allowed to evacuate with their pets. This actually happened and units were sent in to put the animals down.
8. But…there are still hundreds of dogs there
9. Tourist spot
Tourists can visit the Exclusion Zone, and it’s actually become pretty trendy after the success of the HBO show about the disaster.
10. Ghost town
There is an abandoned amusement park in nearby Pripyat that looks like something out of a horror film.
While it’s truly terrifying what happened at Chernobyl, the strength that the people of Russia have shown in the face of unimaginable devastation should be commended.