At 1:23 a.m. on April 26, 1986, an explosion destroyed reactor No. 4 at Chernobyl’s Vladimir Illyich Lenin Nuclear Power Station in the former Soviet Union. Thirty years later, 5 million people still live on heavily contaminated lands in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands of people are sick or suffering in different ways.

The true impact from Chernobyl may not be known for decades to come.

The blast immediately killed one person. A second died in the hospital after succumbing to injuries. While the reactor burned for two weeks, discharging the largest-ever uncontrolled amount of radioactive material into the environment, the radiation that spewed from the plant reached 42% of Europe’s territory and prompted the deployment of an army of 800,000 emergency workers.

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