People in Ukraine have held memorial services to mark the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. President Viktor Yuschenko laid a wreath in honour of the men known as the liquidators – those who perished fighting the toxic flames or later succumbed to radiation poisoning. Their families recalled how they left home that day, never to return.
Twenty nine of them lost their lives in the disaster, or died in the weeks that followed after suffering terribly. The poignant pealing of bells marked the exact moment the alarm was raised at the doomed plant on the 26 April 1986. As the candle flames flickered, the tears fell unchecked. Overcome with grief, they remembered those whose lives were ended by the tragedy.
There were also prayers for the thousands who were given a life sentence of illness, as a result of being exposed to 100 times more radiation than the victims of the atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.