The Japanese government has raised the severity level of the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to a level 7, putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.Radiation emission at Fukushima, however, is still 1/10th that of Chernobyl, according to Japan’s nuclear safety agency Bloomberg reported.
Unlike Chernobyl, Fukushima’s containment structures though damaged, have ensured that the amount of radiation release is a lot less, and the manner of its release is different.
Nevertheless, the 1986 disaster immediately comes to mind. After the Chernobyl blast residents in the 19-mile “zone of alienation” were evacuated within days of the disaster.
Many residents however refused to leave and some have since returned. Towns like Prypyat about 1.8 miles from Chernobyl that had a pre-disaster population of 50,000, continue to remain abandoned. Read on to see how Chernobyl affected lives of 116,000 people who were evacuated from the region.
An aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine shows damage from an explosion and fire in one of the reactors that sent large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere, April 26, 1986
Volodymyr Shashenok an engineer at the station is seen here posing with his son in Pripyat, Ukraine. He became the second victim of Chernobyl and died five hours after the accident
Residents of Kiev line up to get forms filled out prior to radiation checks for everyone possibly exposed to radioactive fallout, May 9, 1986
Firefighters with protective gear wash a West German car near the East German border after it arrived from Poland with radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, May 3, 1986
Galsjo Forest elk hunters fill a quarry in Northern Sweden with carcasses contaminated with radioactivity, September 18, 1986
Five-year-old Alec Zhloba, who suffers from leukemia, is held by his doctor in the children's cancer ward of the Gomel Regional Hospital, Belarus. His head has tracks from medical procedures, March 19, 1996
A woman carries a bucket with milk in the village of Bartolomeyevka, 206 miles southeast of Minsk, Belarus. She refused to leave her village of 1,000 which was evacuated after the Chernobyl accident. As of 2004 there were only 10 people left in the village without electricity and running water, Oct. 20, 2004
Ukrainian school children try on gauze masks for a safety drill in a school in Rudniya, just outside the Chernobyl contamination zone, April 3, 2006
An abandoned hospital in Pripyat, a town of 47,000-people near Chernobyl nuclear power plant that was completely evacuated within days of the accident, April 2, 2006
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