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16th Anniversary Marked by Chernobyl Survivors

Paraphrased by Steve Waldrop
May 15, 2002

On April 26th, 1986 the World's worst nuclear power accident occurred at Chernobyl in the former USSR (now Ukraine). At 1:23a.m., the No. 4 reactor exploded and a fireball blew off the reactor's heavy steel and concrete lid.

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant located 80 miles north of Kiev killed more than 30 people immediately, and as a result of the high radiation levels in the surrounding 20-mile radius, 135,00 people had to be evacuated. Radiation spewed across Europe, Russia, Belarus, and the then Soviet Ukraine.

Crowds of survivors gathered in remembrance recently to mark the 16th anniversary of the tragic event. From all across their country Ukrainians marked the anniversary by holding ceremonies in churches, cemeteries and public squares, that began an 1:23 a.m.

More than 4,000 people involved in the clean-up effort have died and more than 70,000 were disabled by the disaster according to reports by the Ukrainian government.

The birthrate in Ukraine has dropped by 50 percent since 1986, while the death rate has doubled. Doctors and health officials are unequivocal in linking the sharp rise in thyroid cancer, especially among children to Chernobyl. Since 1986, over 2,100 children who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident have undergone thyroid treatment.