In the early hours of April 26, 1986, workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant were carrying out tests on reactor four when operating errors and design faults led to successive explosions.
The men and women sent in to deal with the horror were known as liquidators, some of them young Red Army recruits, others older reservists with children.
Yuri Andriev is a spokesperson for the liquidators:
“As you can see from the pictures the reactor was completely ripped open, it was “breathing” pushing huge amounts of radioactive material into the air and less that 2 kilometres away were my wife, children and extended family.”
Ivan Lemechinsky worked on the clean-up operation:
“We were within 30 kilometres of the plant. It was hot, there was a lot of fallout in the air, tractors carried away the grass, we were laying a powerline in radioactive earth. I was there for eight days.”
Those that remain from the clean-up are in dispute with the Ukraine government after their pensions suffered cuts as a result of the country’s financial plight.
Controversy still rages over the number of deaths with estimates ranging from dozens to thousands.