The Chernobyl Disaster: 25 Years Ago

The 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is next month. On April 26, 1986, a series of explosions destroyed Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 station and several hundred staff and firefighters tackled a blaze that burned for 10 days and sent a plume of radiation around the world in the worst-ever civil nuclear disaster. More than 50 reactor and emergency workers were killed at the time. Assessing the larger impact on human health remains a difficult task, with estimates of related deaths from cancer ranging from 4,000 to over 200,000. The government of Ukraine indicated early this year that it will lift restrictions on tourism around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, formally opening the scene to visitors. It's expected, meanwhile, that a 20,000-ton steel case called the New Safe Confinement (NSC), designed as a permanent containment structure for the whole plant, will be completed in 2013.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • NASA

    Apollo 11 Moon Landing: Photos From 50 Years Ago

    Fifty photos of the historic Apollo 11 mission on the 50th anniversary of that “giant leap.”

  • Charles Platiau / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Crocodile Kiss, Glacier Blanket, Bear Cemetery

    Cliff diving in Beirut, “swan upping” in London, protests against Puerto Rico’s governor, underwater violin in Malta, flooding in Louisiana, the Winegrowers Festival in Switzerland, and much more

  • Corey Raffel / Audubon Photography Awards

    2019 Audubon Photography Awards

    Some of the best bird photography of the year—a collection of the 2019 winners and runners-up.

  • Ed Jones / AFP / Getty

    Photos: The 2019 Artistic-Swimming World Championships

    Scenes from above and below the water of the artistic swimmers at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in South Korea