Widows of Ukrainian men involved in the clean-up at Chernobyl display portraits of their husbands near a monument in Kiev.
Widows of Ukrainian men involved in the clean-up at Chernobyl display portraits of their husbands near a monument in Kiev. SERGEY DOLZHENKO

Chernobyl marked, 31 years on

THE devastating impact of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident has been remembered on the 31st anniversary of the disaster.

The leaders of Ukraine and Belarus - two of the countries worst hit by the toxic fallout - toured the site.

"Both Belarusians and Ukrainians know that the Chernobyl catastrophe knows no borders,” Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said.

On April 26, 1986, the fourth reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded, spewing radioactive material over 155,000sq km across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, prompting alerts in much of northern Europe.

About 8.4 million people across four countries were exposed to radiation, including some 600,000 "liquidators” involved in fire-fighting, clean-up operations and

the construction of a protective shell over the ruins of the plant.

Estimates of the death toll from longer term radiation effects vary greatly, but Greenpeace claims the figure is close to 100,000.

Last year a giant metal dome was completed, capping the site where 180 tonnes of uranium remain buried. A 30km exclusion zone remains in place.



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