Chernobyl nuclear disaster: Ukraine marks anniversary

A vigil was held in the town of Slavutych, where former Chernobyl workers live

Related Stories

Ukraine is marking the 25th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident - at the Chernobyl power plant.

An explosion at one of the plant's reactors sent a plume of radiation across Europe in 1986, harming or killing possibly thousands of people.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, are visiting the site for a memorial ceremony.

The anniversary comes amid renewed global protest over nuclear power.

The debate has been reinvigorated by the threat of radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima plant in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

New shield

Early on Tuesday, Mr Yanukovych attended a candle-lighting service led by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

"The world had not known a catastrophe in peaceful times that could compare to what happened in Chernobyl," Patriarch Kirill said.

Start Quote

The world had not known a catastrophe in peaceful times that could compare to what happened in Chernobyl”

End Quote Patriarch Kirill

A bell sounded at 0123 (2223 GMT Monday), the time of the blast, and tolled 25 times.

It was on 26 April 1986 that Number Four reactor at Chernobyl, which was then in the Soviet Union, exploded.

The accident forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in Ukraine, western Russia and Belarus.

Soviet officials held off reporting the accident for several days.

There is still a 30km (19-mile) exclusion zone around the plant.

Soviet engineers encased the damaged reactor in a temporary concrete casing to limit the radiation but a new shield is needed.

A donors conference in Kiev, Ukraine, last week raised 550m euros (£486m; $798m) of the 740m euros needed to build a new shelter and a storage facility for spent fuel.

'Tell the truth'
Anti-nuclear protest on Pont de l'Europe over Rhine between France and Germany - 25 April 2011 Protesters on Monday demanded France and Germany shut nuclear power stations

The Chernobyl anniversary comes less than two months after the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan was badly damaged by an earthquake and tsunami, renewing concerns about the safety of nuclear power generation.

The operators of the Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, have also come under fire for not quickly disclosing information on radiation leaks from the plant.

Mr Medvedev said there must be greater transparency in nuclear emergencies.

"I think that our modern states must see the main lesson of what happened at Chernobyl and the most recent Japanese tragedy as the necessity to tell people the truth," he told survivors of the clean-up effort at a meeting in the Kremlin.

On Monday, thousands of people in France and Germany staged protests calling for an end to nuclear power.

Marches were held on several river bridges between France and Germany over the Rhine while there were further protests at German nuclear plants.

Meanwhile in India, security has been tightened around Jaitapur, where protesters are planning to march on the site of a planned six-reactor nuclear power plant.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Europe stories


Features & Analysis

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Painting from Rothschild collectionDark arts Watch

    The 50-year fight to recover paintings looted by the Nazis

  • Aimen DeanI spied

    The founder member of al-Qaeda who worked for MI6

  • Blow torchTorch of hope Watch

    An ancient art form helps troubled youth pick up the pieces

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • StudentsBull market

    Employers are snapping up students with this desirable degree


  • 3D model of Christ the Redeemer statueClick Watch

    Using drones to 3D map the famous Brazilian landmark Christ the Redeemer

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.