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The 17 photos that tell the harrowing true story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

On April 26, 1986, life in the Ukraine irrevocably changed when the Chernobyl Power Plant exploded in an unprecedented nuclear disaster.

Instantly, two men were killed in the blast and in the days that followed, approximately 49,000 people were uprooted from their homes and evacuated from the town of Pripyat, a nearby city just three kilometres from the plant which was built to serve the workers of the power plant.

Initially, the people of Pripyat thought they were being evacuated from their homes for a few days. A week at most.

Little did they know, they were actually leaving their homes forever.

The real story behind HBO’s Chernobyl. Post continues after podcast.

After all, Pripyat was declared too dangerous for human habitation for the next 24,000 years.

Since the Chernobyl accident, Pripyat has stood still, serving as a harrowing reminder of the catastrophic disaster.

Filled with decaying apartment blocks, an abandoned fairground, the personal belongings of former residents and empty school buildings littered with radioactive dust, the town is often described as “post-apocalyptic” and “what the world would look like if all the humans disappeared”.

Here’s 17 photos that tell the story of the Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath.

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A group of radiation experts head off on a mission within the Chernobyl site. Their job is to examine the situation on the roof of the reactor every night. Image: Getty.
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A reporter measures high radiation levels near Chernobyl. Image: Getty.
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Some of the most common health problems affecting the Chernobyl liquidators were heart related. A surgeon in Kiev takes a breather after performing a heart operation. Image: Getty.
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Residents were forced to leave their homes, leaving the majority of their belongings behind. Image: Getty.
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Liquidators prepare to assist with the clean-up operations after Chernobyl. Image: Getty.
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A patient recovers from an operation at Moscow's No 6 clinic, which specialises in radiation treatment. Image: Getty.
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A Chernobyl memorial site. Image: Getty.
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In the region of Gomel in Belarus, thyroid cancer in children increased rapidly. Image: Getty.
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Between 1989-1990, a notable increase in genetic malformations in animals was noted, in particular in calves and pigs. The following year, almost 400 deformed animals were born, but they only lived for a few hours. In 1990, Igor Kostin took photographs of these mutations, including this deformed calf. Image: Getty.
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A woman living in the contaminated zone gives birth to a stillborn infant as a result of radiation exposure. Image: Getty.
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In the years following the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there was an increase in malformation in newly-born children in the Ukraine and Belarus. Many of these children were abandoned by their parents. Image: Getty.
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Photographer Igor Kostin discovered this deformed child in a special school for abandoned children in Belarus. It's believed the child was adopted by a British family and later underwent several successful operations carried out by a British surgeon. Image: Getty.
A stray dog in the Chernobyl zone. Most pets were left behind as residents were evacuated. Image: Getty.
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Pripyat, the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union, was left abandoned. Image: Getty.
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An abandoned music class room at the Pripyat secondary school. Image: Getty.
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2012: A Ukrainian women who refused to leave and still lives in Chernobyl with her husband, six kilometres from the reactor. They live off self grown crops and vegetables. Image: Getty.
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An armchair in an abandoned kindergarten classroom in the Chernobyl zone. Image: Getty.

Watch the official trailer for HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl below. Post continues after video.

The five-part miniseries Chernobyl is available to watch now on Foxtel.

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