Over 30 years have passed since the malfunction at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl. To this day, the Chernobyl disaster remains the most devastating event of its kind.
The radioactive contamination that was released from the reactor caused damage throughout much of Eastern Europe, most notably in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.
The consequences of the catastrophe are immeasurable. It forever changed the lives of those who lived even relatively close to it and became the loudest warning sign to what improper handling of nuclear power plants can do.
Chernobyl today is a wasteland. Haunted by the abandoned buildings, cars, and belongings of those who once lived in the area, the place is a complete ghost town.
Chernobyl photos are terrifying to even look at if one is familiar with the history of how things unfolded from the fateful night of the 26th of April, 1986.
Below, you can find some of the photos of Chernobyl today and get to know more about how the disaster of the never-before-seen scale transformed the town into a cultural phenomenon. Strangely, it is also a tourist attraction.
How It All Happened
It all started during a safety test at reactor no. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the town of Pripyat in northern Ukraine. Due to unexpected power loss, combined with design flaws in the Soviet-built nuclear plant and the crew's inexperience, the reactor exploded, releasing unseen amounts of energy.
The fire caused by the initial explosion and two others that followed spread the radioactive contamination in the air, killing and permanently injuring thousands of people.
Chernobyl was also a political catastrophe for an already struggling Soviet government. At first, they tried to cover up the disaster and the damage that it caused. It is estimated that the explosion cost the lives of thousands more people than officially recorded by the Soviets.
An exclusion zone of about 1000 kilometers (640 miles) was set up around Chernobyl. No one was allowed to enter without an official permit from the government. About 100,000 people were forced to leave their homes because the radiation endangered their lives. The deserted towns surrounding the plant constitute Chernobyl today.
Chernobyl Today - A Tourist Destination?
Interestingly, Chernobyl today has become one of the weirdest but most popular tourist destinations.
After nearly 40 years since the disaster, the radiation levels have decreased near the plant in the abandoned town of Pripyat. It made it possible for the enjoyers of "extreme tourism" to travel to the site and see the ghost town first-hand. Likely, yet still unsafe.
With professional guides and special equipment, hundreds of tourists from all over the world visit Chernobyl today. They are amazed when they see the accurate scale of the catastrophe, a whole town without anybody living in it.
Chernobyl today is slowly getting back to the state where a lot of life is coming back. Tallgrass and vegetation can be seen everywhere in the deserted town.
Mother nature is regaining its foothold in the once human-occupied town and is challenging the abandoned concrete buildings to dominance.
Chernobyl photos depict one of the most bizarre cases in the world. The terrifying, post-apocalyptic atmosphere in Chernobyl is hard to find anywhere else on Earth.
What is truly interesting is that the Soviet government could not fully evacuate the area surrounding Chernobyl. Despite their best efforts to get everyone out, people kept returning to their homes, unable to give their lives up. This is one of the most horrifying facts about the Chernobyl disaster.
Those who lived near the plant had to give everything up. Whole families were forced to move thousands of miles away from their homes in other parts of the USSR, uncertain of what would come next. But not everyone left.
For example, the exclusion zone is estimated to have up to 100 permanent residents to this day. One of them is Mykola Kovalenko, a 73-year-old man photographed a couple of years back, posing in front of his house and homemade tractor.
The residents of the exclusion zone live in complete isolation and, of course, in very tough living conditions.
They hunt and gather food like their ancestors, deprived of modern technologies or human contact. Despite the apparent health risks of living in contaminated lands, life in the exclusion zone is pretty peaceful.
It is undisturbed by the industrial, commercial, busy day-to-day lives we all know. It is a unique experience, only found in Chernobyl today.
Chernobyl Photos Tell A Story
All in all, more than three decades later, Chernobyl today has transformed into something more than just a location where the most significant nuclear catastrophe in human history happened. It is, almost, its own unique living organism that is starting to breathe again.
Unseen levels of radiation that spread for weeks all throughout Eastern Europe and Soviet Republics have diluted down to a somewhat normal level. At least when it comes to a place like Chernobyl, where normal is anything above total devastation.
If there was one word to describe Chernobyl today, it is rust. Chernobyl photos show the abandoned property that is almost fighting for its survival.
Nature is slowly taking over what was, it seems, once taken from it by us. The rust on the cars, in the gardens, in the buildings dominate anything else. Many households are still intact - things are not misplaced or messy. It is as if someone is still living their everyday life there.
It is apparent that the citizens near Chernobyl had no time to evacuate. They left their lives behind, believing they would come back.
It looks like if humans were able to return permanently, they would continue living because not everything has been completely destroyed.
Chernobyl photos teach us a lesson. They show that we cannot take everything for granted. The abandoned buildings still contain memories of those who once lived there are. And they are terrifying to even look at.
Chernobyl today is a great example of what we can achieve and then wholly destroy.