Woman Explores Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Viral Video Viewed Over 24 Million Times

A woman filming the ghost town of Pripyat has gone viral online, after her eerie video of the abandoned area around Chernobyl amassed more than 24 million views.

The 1986 explosion at the power plant in Chernobyl was the worst nuclear accident in history, which saw radioactive material scattered across Europe.

Numerous deaths have been attributed to the explosion at the no. 4 reactor, and nuclear fallout, in the years following the disaster. It is one of only two categorized as a level 7—the highest—on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The other is the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

The surrounding area, in Ukraine, was evacuated in the immediate aftermath, including a newly formed town called Pripyat, home to around 50,000 people at the time, most of whom worked at the plant. A 30-kilometer radius exclusion zone was set up initially, according to the World Nuclear Organization, which was later made permanent and is now known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

At the heart of the zone is the steel and concrete sarcophagus placed over the site, which was installed in 2017, encompassing an existing structure. The surrounding areas, including the once-bustling Pripyat, were turned into a ghost town virtually overnight. In the years and decades since, nature has reclaimed the land and animals have moved back into the area.

Tours are now conducted in the area, albeit with safety measures in place. A woman, named Nataly, has garnered millions of views in recent weeks sharing videos from the deserted landscape, including from what she has said is inside the reactor.

Nataly, who claims to be a tour guide of Chernobyl, shared a clip to TikTok on Thursday, which she captioned: "Yes, it is possible! Tour to the Chernobyl Nuclear PP."

The video, which can be seen here, amassed 24.4 million views. In the short clip she role-plays a conversation between two people, saying: "Wow! It must be so radioactive near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

"Well, there are even tours inside the plant.

"Are you crazy? That is impossible."

The next shot appears to be her in a hazmat suit and hardhat, inside the facility. The tiled room is vast, with debris scattered around the empty building.

@chernobyl_guide

☢️ Yes, it is possible! Tour to the Chernobyl Nuclear PP. Contact to me☢️ inst - lady.adventure_ #fy #chernobyl #pripyat #warzone #chernobylhbo

♬ original sound - Colm McGuinness

The camera pans a control panel, now rusted, dirty and broken, with the yellow chemical symbol for radioactivity clearly visible. She films another vast console, covered in buttons, dials and switches, now obsolete.

And she films a handheld device, thought to be measuring radioactivity, which says 5.714. Other clips, her most recent uploaded Tuesday, show the deserted nuclear power plant entrance, as she compares a photograph of the building in its heyday to the shell it is now.

And in another, she visits the infamous Pripyat hospital, saying: "So you constantly ask me about the highly contaminated basement of Pripyat hospital. Here it is, specially blocked with sand to stop people trying to sneak in there.

"Inside there is highly radioactive clothes of the first firefighters who extinguished the fire on the exploded reactor no. 4. Visiting such a place can seriously affect you in a very harmful way and you won't find it out until it is [too] late."

In another clip she uses footage from the bustling city as it once was in the 80s, before cutting to how it looks today, decades later. She says: "Pripyat after 35 years. Nature takes over the city. The main square is not any more visible from the same spot."

In another she films the residential buildings, all abandoned after tenants were forced to flee. "Forever left apartments in Pripyat remains of the bygone days," she said in the clip, as she filmed postboxes, and gave a short apartment tour, showing worn-out armchairs, a sofa, and empty cabinets.

@chernobyl_guide

☢️ Would you dare to go there? 😱 I think, it doesn’t worth it… better to visit Pripyat in a safe way 👍🏻 book a tour 📩 #pripyat #chernobyl #fyp #fy

♬ original sound - Sam

Her videos divided opinion online over safety, as Petitealicet commented on the most popular clip: "As a Ukranian, the fact that we allow tours there doesn't mean it's safe. It's not."

"I don't see how this is worth it, you can experience this site through YouTube without risking your life," said Abyssaint.

Katherinethereal added: "It's still radioactive and just because someone can go there doesn't mean they should do it."

Nataly is not the first person to cause a stir after sharing images from the exclusion zone, after the airing of a mini-series in 2019, on HBO, prompting a renewed interest in the site on social media.

So prolific were the tourist snaps that one of the show's writers, Craig Mazin, implored people to show "respect" at the site.

In a now-deleted tweet sent in 2019, he wrote: "It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion. But yes, I've seen the photos going around.

"If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed."

Newsweek reached out to Nataly for comment.

File photo of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
File photo of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. A woman, named Nataly, has been sharing videos from inside the exclusion zone, which have been viewed millions of times. Steve Simmons/Getty Images