Over three decades on from the Chernobyl disaster, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions about the nuclear explosion.
But while the disaster is back in the spotlight once again with the release of HBO’s five-part miniseries, Chernobyl, the death toll from the catastrophic accident is still unknown.
The real story behind HBO’s Chernobyl. Post continues after podcast.
Just seconds later, a series of explosions to the equivalent of 500 nuclear bombs was set off.
Instantly, two men were killed in the blast.
In the weeks that followed, more than 100 people, the majority being firefighters who were first on the scene, developed acute radiation syndrome. In just a few weeks time, 29 of them died.
Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky spoke to Midnight in Chernobyl author Adam Higginbotham about the true story behind Chernobyl.
Watch the official trailer for HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl below. Post continues after video.
Speaking to The Quicky, Higginbotham explained that it was undoubtedly clear that first responders at the scene were showing obvious signs of radiation sickness. But despite the severity of the situation, it took 36 hours before the town of Pripyat was evacuated.
“The severity of this accident became apparent when the firefighters and operators who were immediately responsible for trying to put out these fires and contain the accident were at the hospital vomiting and showing obvious signs of radiation sickness,” Adam explained.
“But the Soviet government delayed the evacuation and they didn’t even tell the people that lived in Pripyat,” he added.
“They didn’t even tell them to go home and close their windows. They were determined to keep it a secret.”
Eventually, 36 hours after the initial explosion, over 26,500 people were evacuated by rail and road from the city.
According to Higginbotham, within about four months of the disaster, the total number of victims of the accident had risen to 31.