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What does Chernobyl look like now?

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An abandoned school in Prypiat', the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine
An abandoned school in Prypiat', the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine   -   Copyright  Natalia Liubchenkova

Ukraine marks the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the biggest one in the history of nuclear energy.

The consequences of it are still impossible to evaluate – but we do know that a huge radioactive cloud gradually reached almost every corner on Earth.

Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
The view over the cooling pond of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and reactor No. 4, covered with the protective shield andNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

The first responders worked on the station with the minimum of protective clothing, around 30 of them died from radiation poisoning in days. Overall, over half a million people took part in clean-up efforts.

Oleksiy Breus, was among them, initially, he was an operator of the 4th block control panel, on duty on the day of the disaster there, he later joined the forces of the first responders.

“Chernobyl is a big lesson, he told Euronews. We learned a lot technologically, and also in overcoming the results, and how to deal with it, how to use it. Tourism is one of the options on how to use Chernobyl. Tourism here is not entertainment. Even when the tourists come here for entertainment, they return in a totally different mood. Visiting the exclusion zone gives a feeling that you are now connected to this event of the Biblical scale.”

Today, 30 kilometres around Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant remains to be an exclusion zone. In Prypyat, now a ghost town that previously served the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the deserted buildings decay slowly after the evacuation, trees grow on its boulevards.

Our editor Natalia Liubchenkova has returned there 4 times over the years, check her photographs in this gallery.

Chernobyl exclusion zone, Ukraine. Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Radar Duga, an over-the-horizon radar system, used from July 1976 to December 1989 as part of the Soviet missile defence early-warning radar networkChernobyl exclusion zone, Ukraine. Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
The Ferris Wheel in an abandoned amusement park in Pripyat, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Natalia Liubchenkova
An abandoned school in Prypiat', the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova
Nataliia Liubchenkova/Euronews
A gym in an abandoned Pripyat school, Chernobyl, UkraineNataliia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
An abandoned swimming pool in Pripyat school, Chernobyl, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Natalia Liubchenkova
The nature is taking over a room near the gym in an abandoned school in Prypiat, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova
Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Abandoned school library in Pripyat, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
An abandoned grocery store surrounded by vegetation in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
An interior of the house in an abandoned village in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, UkraineNatalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

Slide below to see how the 4th reactor of Chernobyl Nuclear power plant looked before and after the installation of the new shield in 2016. Until then it was covered by an older casing installed shortly after the disaster. It served almost 30 years and needed to be changed for a long time.

Breus says Chernobyl is a museum, even though it does not have an official status of one. The Association of Chernobyl Tour Operators has even bigger plans for it. For the past couple of years, it has been working on getting UNESCO World Heritage status for the exclusion zone.