Monologue About What We Didn't Know: Death Can Be So Beautiful 152-154, Nadezhda Petrovna Vygovskaya, evacuee from the town of Pripyat. It was a hospital for radiation poisoning. We checked breast milk -- it was radioactive. An aerial view of the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after its explosion is seen in this 1986 file photo. By Christina Maria Paschyn, Pulitzer Center/Additional reporting by Zoe Jennings, Pulitzer Center. They've written dozens of books. He walked through the Zone and marked the points of maximum radiation -- they exploited him in the fullest sense of the term, like he was a robot. There was a woman in our group, a radiologist. We could have left, but my husband and I thought about it and decided not to. But the radiation that spread in the aftermath of the explosion killed thousands in … They've even grown funds and commercial structures…. A power surge ruptured the uranium fuel rods, while a steam explosion created a huge fireball that blew the roof off the reactor. We had a convoy. It's a ghost town now. We're paupers, we survive on what people give us. I came back from the cemetery and called the nurse's post right away. The […] The memories of survivors were collected for the 10th anniversary of the disaster in the book Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of the Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich. We compiled our reports, we put together explanatory notes. They had these big bulging sacks next to their seats, we kept tripping over them the whole way to Kiev, and that's what they came to Kiev with. The tractors were running, the farmers were digging on their plots. We drive around Moscow for two or three hours, around the beltway. The story of the reactor's catastrophic explosion, as told in an HBO/Sky miniseries, has … We ended up just giving out the money equally, according to the list. She yelled a long time. The children ran to her with flowers from the meadow...their hair and teeth had fallen out already. Nadezhda Afanasyevna Burakova, resident of the village of Khoyniki. Sometimes I think it'd be better if you didn't write about us. Since you're writing this book, you need to have a look at some unique video footage. She's in the tenth grade, and she already has such thoughts. I can only guess at what other people were thinking. Although the thing I remember isn't the grave, it's the plastic bag. Cheating Chernobyl. In sealed zinc caskets, under cement tiles. After evacuating the residents of Pripyat, the city bordering the Chernobyl power plant, the Soviet government sent robots into the Exclusion Zone to contain the meltdown and put out a raging fire. On April 26, 1986, an accident in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, Ukrainian SSR, caused a blast & fires that released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the atmosphere, contaminating everything around it for years. I was there all night. We're afraid to. I sense I'm about to black out. Colonel Yaroshuk. Later that evening, as we were eating dinner outside the building by the river next to the plant, a flood light turned on in the room of the installation. No matter who you talk to about Chernobyl, they all want to philosophize. The passion in the music, and her movements were legendary. The landscape changes, because instead of fields the forest rises up again, but the national character changes too. According to legend, several people began to see a large, winged creature with red eyes in early April before the Chernobyl disaster. We checked the milk. Updated Updated 29/04/2016 By Sacha Payne, Olga Klepova As we were leaving Pripyat there was an army column heading back in the other direction. I saw the blood leaking from her nostrils, and down cheeks from her ears. The man is a gifted musician, a gentle soul, and it was a true gift to meet him. [Minsk, Belarus 2005] Only 5 years old and suffering from leukemia, Veronika is hospitalized at the Center for Radiation Medicine in Kiev. When we saw them on the streets, with all the military vehicles, we didn't grow frightened -- on the contrary, it calmed us down. They didn't even let me hug the coffin. I ran through the alley and I hot wired the car. But we kept quiet and carried out our orders without a murmur because of Party discipline. There was an explosion caused by a flawed reactor design at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which spewed radiation into the air. He's calling for you like mad!" Please call me "Yuri"- I'm a musician in taverns of Northern Europe for drinks and for the generosity of patrons. You probably wouldn't let us out of here if you had your way, you'd put up a police cordon, that would calm you down. Preface and translation copyright (c) 2005 by Keith Gessen. The memories of those who survived Chernobyl were collected in the book Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of the Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich. Still, my husband put our documents and our wedding photos into his briefcase. Reports of the bird stopped immediately after the disaster. It was one hundred, sometimes two and three hundred times the allowable dosage. Also from there. The Soviet media disseminated very … I go to church -- it's the only place they talk about eternal life. These are his words...his story. That was just in the first days. The way they enlighten me about Stalin, Lenin, Bolshevism. Her legs remind you of a grate, everything's with holes up to the knees. We're creating a museum. Twenty years ago this month, a routine maintenance test at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine veered wildly out of control. We checked the milk. But high doses were everywhere. After the first tests it became clear that what we were receiving couldn't properly be called meat -- it was radioactive byproducts. We were all so happy! My mom: "Quiet. It was impossible to imagine anything like it, even though I'd always dealt with the most advanced technologies, with outer space technologies. The reactor door requires a password and a handprint, yet someone, or something, was inside. Don't try to tell me it's not like that. Pieces of his lungs, of his liver, were coming out of his mouth. — Which story is the most difficult? Hi Everyone! Within the zone the herds were taken care of in shifts -- the shepherds would come and go, the milkmaids were brought in for milking only. Excerpted from Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. It's not a chronicle of Chernobyl, no, they wouldn't let anyone film that, it was forbidden. In the museum in Kiev they have a mold of graphite the size of a soldier's cap, they say that if it were real, it would weigh 16 kilos, that's how dense and heavy graphite is. In terms of our readiness for self-sacrifice, we have no equals. I served at Baikonur [a space launch center]. Market! No one talks about cancer in the home of a person who's sick with it. When I came, I immersed myself into this Chernobylized space, it was a corrective to my sense of things. We slept at the train station. They put him next to a girl who said she didn't want to sit with him, he was radioactive. When he dies, they'll name a street after him, or a school, or a military unit, but that's only after he dies. Lyudmilla Ignatenko, wife of deceased fireman Vasily Ignatenko. All rights reserved. And even to live through. And they were carrying the coffin. "How is he?" A colonel and his regiment. They tell the regiment: "We're not allowing anyone into the cemetery. What don't we do! But three decades later, survivors are still struggling with their health. I'm still in love with him -- he was a wonderful Russian man, with that wonderful smile. It wasn't milk, it was a radioactive byproduct. The institute worked round the clock, like it was a military institute. Quiet, daughter." As with any site where a number of people have lost their lives, Pripyat is rife with ghost stories. The soldiers [have] masks and guns, but I could see the fear on his face too! There are some Chernobyl photo albums now, but how many video and photo cameras were broken! I lived through it. We're gathering it little by little. That night I climbed out [the] window of the lodging house. We hear some of their stories. Well, they'll be in the museum, on display. Igor Pavlovets is an eight-year-old boy who was one of the first children conceived after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. [Stops.] I'm sitting on my little chair next to him at night. They're a young, handsome pair. Saar Vogman was 9 years old and 100 kilometers from the worst nuclear accident in history. A handful. According to legend, several people began to see a large, winged creature with red eyes in early April before the Chernobyl disaster. Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, radiation contamination continues to haunt survivors as it spreads to the next generation. ELENA CASAS: In the early morning of April 26, 1986, a huge explosion shook the fourth reactor at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, flinging out radioactive debris from … Colonel Yaroshuk is dying now. Watch television.". Visitors to this website are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. What I saw in Slavutych at 1.24am, the time when the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl power plant exploded 32 years ago, was a solemn outpouring of raw emotion. Everyone came -- his parents, my parents. They were young guys. I escorted him all the way to the grave site. For fourteen nights. The excessive radiation in the air prevented the robots from doing their work, so the government rounded up a bunch of soldiers and gave them a choice - serve two years in Afghanistan, where the Soviets were engaged in a brutal conflict against mujahideen, or spend two minutes shoveling sand onto the exposed reactor at Chernobyl. Anywhere else, we're foreign, we're lepers. But how? I siphoned the petrol from other vehicles in the night. If anyone got indignant and wanted to take the coffin back home, they were told that the dead were now heroes, you see, and that they no longer belonged to their families.