On April 25 and 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, forcing a region-wide evacuation and sending radioactive fallout cascading across Europe.
The Chernobyl disaster turned a once thriving town into a ghost town that has, in subsequent years, served as both a source of fascination and a cautionary tale about the dangers of nuclear power and radiation.
Decades later, photographer David McMillan has captured pics of the town of Pripyat, closest to the nuclear plant, reports CNN.
“The challenge was finding people who could get me in,” he recalled in a phone interview. “I didn’t know where to go; I was at the mercy of drivers and my interpreter.
“I had no real sense of (the danger),” he added. “People just advised me that some areas were heavily contaminated, and that I should maybe only take a minute or two to photograph there.”
The result is a series of eerie images documenting derelict buildings, overgrown playgrounds, and vehicles abandoned after the cleanup.
Take a look:
Those images are a far cry from what the city looked like in its heyday:
“It must have been beautiful,” said McMillan, who has studied archive images of the area. “It was considered, at the time, to be one of the finest cities to live in the Soviet Union. There were lots of schools and hospitals, and facilities for sports and culture, so it was kind of a showcase city.”
These amenities now lie abandoned, having fallen victim to decay, rust and looting. Many of McMillan’s photos — whether showing empty swimming pools or deserted churches — reveal just how suddenly the city was evacuated.
When you throw around words like ‘nuclear disaster’, people tend to beat a hasty retreat.
You can see more of McMillan’s images of Chernobyl in his upcoming book, Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
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