The effects are still being felt 26 years later. The disaster occurred at 1:23 am on April 26, 1986, when a safety test of reactor N°4 went horribly wrong. Two explosions blew the top off the reactor, and radiation at least 100 times that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs combined was released, in time spreading over the whole Northern Hemisphere.
Belarus, only 12 km north of Chernobyl, was worst hit. But in Ukraine 35,000 km2 of forest, or 40% of the country’s total forest area, was contaminated by fallout. Today six per cent of Ukraine’s overall territory remains contaminated.
Of the current state budget, 5% still deals with the consequences of Chernobyl. By 2015, it is said that the disaster will have cost the Ukrainian economy $201 billion. Of the 800,000 ’liquidators’ brought in to clean up, it’s reported that anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 have so far died due to radiation exposure. Thyroid and breast cancer have increased dramatically in contaminated areas. Although Kyiv is only 130km south of Chernobyl, the capital is completely safe. The Chernobyl Museum is an excellent place to learn more about this tragedy, while for the extreme tourist there are guided day trips to Chernobyl itself.