Faces Of Chernobyl: Surviving The Fallout

Chernobyl resident
Some residents who lived near Chernobyl, like this woman and her husband, simply never left. Fears of radiation do not appear to bother them. Alexander Nazaryan for Newsweek

On April 26, it was 30 years since reactor No.4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the then Soviet Union exploded, causing the worst nuclear disaster in history, leaking vast amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere.

Three decades later, the effects of the catastrophe are still felt in the surrounding region. The once-thriving Soviet town of Pripyat, just 3 kilometers from the power station, remains abandoned, a ghost town filled with desolate streets, derelict homes and empty swimming pools. The town falls in a 30 kilometer exclusion zone surrounding the destroyed reactor, which still emits more than 25 times normal ambient radiation.

The World Health Organisation reported a large increase in the numbers suffering from thyroid cancer, leukemia and other forms of cancer for young children and adolescents at the time of the accident. It is expected that the increased incidence of cancer from Chernobyl will continue for many years, although the long-term magnitude of the risk is difficult to quantify.

In the second part of a special three-part documentary on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Newsweek speaks with local residents, nuclear scientists and Chernobyl liquidators about how 30 years on people are still suffering from the effects of the disaster.