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    (circa 1200-April 26, 1986)
    Former population: circa 55,000
    Located in Ukraine (formerly part of Soviet Union)
    Evacuated after an accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant caused by an overheated reactor that ultimately lead to an explosion of radioactive debris (April 26, 1986)
    In addition, 336,000 people were evacuated in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia
    Radioactive fallout reached much of Europe and was detected as far away as North America
    The accident caused 56 direct deaths and anywhere from 4,000 to 90,000 later deaths from cancer
    The Jewish population was targeted by Soviet pogroms and later the Nazi occupation.
    It is the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident at a power plant (as of 2008).
    Ironically, the accident occurred during an experiment meant to improve the plant’s safety features.
    The Soviet government tried to cover up the occurrence until Sweden reported a mysterious radioactive leak.
    The amount of radioactive fallout was many times higher than at Hiroshima.
    A nearby forest died, and animals in the vicinity became sterile.
    The cement sarcophagus built to isolate the damaged reactor soon began to deteriorate.
    The most severely affected areas may remain unsafe for centuries.
    It was an important centre for Hasidic Jews from the late 1700s to the early 1900s.
    International questioning of its nuclear programs’ safety standards compelled the Soviet government to become more open.
    Over the years, rare wild life returned to and thrived in many of the evacuated areas.
    Parts of the city are now considered safe for human habitation.
    The film Godzilla (1998) is partially set here.
    Plans to build a new, steel sarcophagus were announced in 2007.

Credit: Georgina

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