Today, as the TV series points out, the official number of directly attributable victims of Chernobyl is 31. At the Chernobyl Research Centre, a short distance from the power plant, scientists showed us pine saplings grown from seeds from the nearby “red forest” where the trees glowed after absorbing radiation and had to be dug up and buried. Yet officials insisted that all this was “poor food and poverty” and unrelated to Chernobyl. A lot of the statistics are controversial because the Russian government won’t release their information, nor will they even provide a rough estimate. “I often wonder if Chernobyl had anything to do with it,” he told me. We were welcomed by dozens of desperate families, good Soviet citizens who had little but would put what little they had on the table to show us hospitality, and who could not understand why their leaders could not explain why their children were dying of radiation-linked diseases except to say “it’s not Chernobyl”. Chernobyl explained: Robots were used in an attempt to clear the roof of graphite (Image: GETTY) The officials decided to to use Russian lunar landers, called Lunokhod, and a … The plume of deadly radioactive dust was just a harmless steam discharge, residents were told. Kim Willsher reported on the world’s worst nuclear disaster from the Soviet Union. Among them, 28 persons died in 1986 due to ARS. Major Teliatnikov was there for 15 minutes, and also a month earlier when the radiation exposure … There can still be delayed effects, and cancer is the principal one. There was no sign of wildlife, not even birds. Tumours, shaking hands, loss of eyesight, loss of teeth, etc. People had been told to take only what they needed for two or three days. Here's a couple interviews, if you want to use Google translate:,, I just find it extremely weird that such a large amount of people that were exposed to extreme conditions weren’t followed up with after the task and that no one kept track of how they did after. We’re bringing back some of our favorite stories of the past year. Like many others, he will never know. Many doctors insisted there had been a spike in the number of cancers and leukemias. Up to 600,000 people, known as ‘liquidators’, took part in the clean-up. Some were ordered to shovel fatally radioactive graphite, working in shifts of 90 seconds each. Today, 33 years on, Vladimir Putin has dismissed the TV miniseries as US misinformation and reportedly said Russia will make its own “version” blaming the CIA. Unfortunately, the Soviets have not given the world a detailed report on the activities and doses of the clean-up crew, the "liquidators." Oksana’s parents pressed cakes, local “champagne”, brandy and vodka on us and talked about their only child’s unexplained “sickness”. Now my photographer friend John Downing has terminal lung cancer. On the TV news on 29 April – more than three days after the catastrophe, with the reactor fire still burning – Chernobyl was the sixth item. He told us he had been more scared of the still raging reactor fire than the silent, invisible killer he was breathing in and out. They were referred to as “biorobots,” and as seen in the episode they could only be exposed to the radiation for 90 seconds at a time. Any longer than that and they would risk death. Not finding stats either, but there's a fair amount of interviews with them. not translated in English), discussing the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. In bare, prison-like hospitals, parents would thrust children at us and beg us to take them to the UK or plead for medicines or money for medicines. In Pripyat, the satellite city built for Chernobyl workers, windows were left open, children played outside, and gardeners dug their allotments. It rings true but only scratches the surface of another, more cruel reality– that, in their desperation to save face, the Soviets were willing to sacrifice any number of men, women and children. In the next room, Oksana lay dying, a skeletal figure staring blindly at the ceiling, who bore no resemblance to the smiling blond girl in a photograph on the mantlepiece.

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