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A brave Ukranian photographer who was present at the Chernobyl disaster was exposed to deadly levels of radiation only to find out his photos had been completely destroyed by the explosion.
Russian aggression in Ukraine has thrust the irradiated nuclear power plant firmly back into global focus.
After being captured by the Russians at the beginning of the conflict, the power connecting the station to the national network was cut, leading Ukraine to warn that a deadly radiation leak was likely.
The plant has been abandoned since the 1986 disaster which The Union of Concerned Scientists estimate cost between 4,000 and 27,000 lives.
On 26 April 1986 when disaster struck, technicians had been attempting to execute a flawed experiment when the reactor’s power-regulating system was suddenly shut down, along with emergency safety systems.
Shortly after 1am the pressure told as a fireball blew through the station causing radioactive material to plume into the atmosphere.
The heat and the radioactivity leaked from the reactor core were not contained for days after and experts now say the vast area around the plant will be uninhabitable for the next 20,000 years.
In the immediate aftermath of the massive explosion, Igor Kostin was one of just five photographers allowed to take photos of the site.
Approaching the flaming power plant from the sky, Kostin and the crew of the helicopter were exposed to deadly levels of radiation that was streaming from the plant.
Unbeknownst to him, of all the photos he took that day only one would survive with the radiation in the air spoiling the rest.
The picture, showing the extent of the damage done to the power plant was heavily used around the world – so it wasn’t an entire day's work wasted.
Following the incident, Kostin took many other photos of the clean-up operation including eerie pictures of men in hazmat suits stalking through irradiated fields.
He also took pictures of the gruesome aftereffects the radiation had on animals in the local area.
His most famous picture captures a mutated horse writhing in agony as it’s handled by a Ukrainian farmer.
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Sadly his efforts didn’t come without great personal cost as in the process he was exposed to radiation levels five times over the acceptable limit – which is enough to burn the skin.
He would be dogged by health problems from this for the rest of his life, but strangely it wasn’t the thing that ultimately ended his life.
In 2015, Kostin tragically died in a car accident in Kyiv aged 78.
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