Chernobyl photographs never seen before
Never-seen-before shots of Chernobyl nuclear disaster that cost two of the four photographers their liveshttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2142849/Haunting-shots-Chernobyl-nuclear-disaster-revealed-true-scale-catastrophe–cost-photographers-lives.html?ito=feeds-newsxml By DAILY MAIL REPORTER, 11 May 2012 These are the haunting images that captured the true scale of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
The black and white shots, taken in the weeks following the 1986 Ukraine tragedy, revealed the truth behind the tragedy Soviet authorities were trying to hush up. But despite helping the outside world to understand what happened that fateful April 26 day, the pictures have had a devastating human cost. Of the four photographers chronicling the tragedy, Anatoly Rasskazov and Valery Zufarov have died from radiation-related diseases and Igor Kostin is constantly ill from the exposure.
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The only snapper to have seemingly survived any ill effects is
Volodymyr Repik. Anatoly Rasskazov, as staff photographer for the
plant, was allowed in on the day of the explosion.
On April 26, at 12noon, just hours after the blast, he made a video of
the destroyed reactor and submitted it to a special commission working
in a bunker close to the plant.
Rasskazov’s photos were submitted to the commission by 11pm on the
same day – and were immediately seized by the Soviet secret police.
Only two of his pictures were published in 1987, without mentioning
the author’s name.
Rasskazov died in 2010, aged 66, after suffering for years from cancer
and blood diseases that he blamed on the radiation. Igor Kostin, now
76, was working for the Novosti Press Agency when he was sent to cover
the April 26 accident.
Gaining unauthorised access to the plant, by hitching a lift on a
military lead-covered helicopter flight, he has admitted to
‘foolishly’ opening the window to take pictures.
But, even though he wore a lead protective suit and placed his
equipment in lead boxes, he came back home with nothing to show for
his determination to document the crisis.
The radiation was so high that all his shots turned out black – and
so he returned, nine days after the blast, to fire off frames as
soldiers frantically shovelled debris over the ruined roof.
Kostin’s work in the days after the blast and in subsequent years on
Chernobyl won him a World Press Photo Prize.
But it also exposed him to heavy levels of radiation.
He has undergone several thyroid operations, with thyroid cancer one
of the most widespread consequences of the blast.
Valery Zufarov died in 1993, aged 52, of Chernobyl-related diseases.
His first pictures were made from a helicopter 25 meters above the
plant. Volodymyr Repik, now 66, last year said that, if he had his
time again, he would not have gone to Chernobyl because the risk of
death was so high.
Pripyat, close to the power plant, has been left a ghost town since
the explosion at the plant caused radiation to leak from a nuclear
The 50,000 residents were evacuated in a major government operation
starting the day after the catastrophe, on April 27.
The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater
catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an
estimated 18 billion rubles, crippling the Soviet economy.
Thirty-one reactor staff and emergency workers were killed in the
nuclear disaster, although a report in 2006 estimated the spread of
radiation would eventually lead to between 30,000 and 60,000 cancer
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