As if the coronavirus fears wouldn’t be enough these days, something new is tormenting people’s minds. It’s been revealed that wildfires burning through radioactive forests in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are getting closer and closer to the exploded nuclear reactor.
Wildfires burning through radioactive forests in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are getting ever closer to the exploded nuclear reactor. Firefighters are rushing to build firebreaks around the sarcophagus covering the ruined plant in Ukraine amid swirling winds.
In 2018 more than 70,000 people visited the town. Last year that figure was even higher, after the success of an HBO mini-series about the disaster.
The devastation of the inferno has been laid bare in helicopter photographs which show acres of scorched earth from where the fire has ravaged what should be green woodland in the spring
Police said the fire had been burning since the weekend of 4 April, after a man set fire to dry grass near the exclusion zone. It has since moved closer to the nuclear plant.
More than 300 people and 85 pieces of equipment have been deployed daily in the fight to extinguish the flames
There are fears that flames could reach abandoned trucks and other vehicles contaminated from the disastrous 1986 explosion. An extraordinary video from firefighter Andrei Kukib shows an emergency vehicle driving through the raging fire and smoke laying waste to the polluted 'dead zone'.
Fires have been blazing for nine days in the almost uninhabited 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone surrounding the disused plant.
On Tuesday, the fire covered some 87 acres, having tripled in size due to strong winds, the emergencies service said in a statement. There are fears of radiation in the ground unleashed by the infernos can reach the nearest city Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and other populated areas. This could be worse if the flames reach the Chernobyl reactors.
Kateryna Pavlova, a senior official involved in the firefighting, said: 'We have been working all night digging firebreaks around the plant to protect it from fire.' She told The New York Times: 'At the moment, we cannot say the fire is contained.'
More than 300 people and 85 pieces of equipment have been deployed daily in the fight to extinguish the flames which come as Ukraine - one of Europe's poorest countries - is also battling against coronavirus.
Date: 26 April 1986; 33 years ago
Cause: Reactor design flaws and breach of protocol during simulated power outage safety test
Outcome: Chernobyl disaster effects
Chernobyl 1986 disaster t is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history and is one of only two nuclear energy disasters rated at seven—the maximum severity—on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
The State Agency for Management of the Exclusion Zone - which Pavlova heads - has ordered in three Antonov planes (AN-32P) and two MI-8 helicopters which have airdropped more than 250 tonnes of water in the wildfires. Police said the blaze broke out after a man set fire to dry grass near the exclusion zone. The man was detained by Ukrainian police.
While the internationally recognised death toll in the immediate aftermath of the disaster was 31 people, the total number of people who died because of what happened that day has been estimated at thousands, although the final figure is not known.
Today no-one is allowed to live within 18 miles of the power station. People can visit the exclusion zone, the close city of Pripyat and the plant itself on guided tours at their own risk.
A huge dome was built over the exploded reactor in 2016 as fires do break out in the surrounding forests regularly.