Christmas tree decorated in Chernobyl 'ghost town'

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image captionFormer residents returned to the abandoned city to decorate the tree

A Christmas tree has been put up for the first time since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the central square of the nearby "ghost town" of Pripyat, Ukraine's ZIK TV channel reports.

Once home to more than 47,000 residents, Pripyat - about 3km (1.9 miles) from the former nuclear plant - remains deserted because of radiation pollution.

Former residents came to the abandoned city to decorate the tree with family photos as part of a campaign organised by the Association of Chernobyl Tour Operators.

Some of them told Suspilne.Media that they had also brought clock decorations as a "symbol of the flow of time and the fact that over time the town does not die but gets revived".

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Kateryna Aslamova from the Chernobyl Tour company said it was the first time some former residents had returned to Pripyat since their evacuation after the world's worst nuclear accident.

image captionClock decorations were hung up to symbolise the passing of time

"The town must live, and for this to happen it must be saved," she said.

Her company would like to see Pripyat and parts of the exclusion zone around the plant become a Unesco World Heritage site.

"Life is returning to Pripyat," said Yaroslav Yemelyanenko, founder of the Chernobyl Hub.

"It is unusual, irregular and touristic. Every day, the once deserted town is filled with tourists from all over the world. They come to learn our history, which changed the course of events in the whole world."

Reporting by Masha Kondrachuk

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