The Chernobyl catastrophe is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.
Instantly, two men were killed in the blast and in the weeks that followed, 29 people – the majority being firefighters who were first on the scene – passed away.
The disaster would have a lasting impact for decades to come. Even now, over three decades later, the death toll from Chernobyl is still unknown.
But as critically-acclaimed new HBO miniseries Chernobyl has shown, the disaster affected and unequivocally changed the lives of millions.
Watch the official trailer for HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl below. Post continues after video.
In 2014, a Reddit user, who was 11 years old at the time of the disaster, did an eye-opening ‘Ask Me Anything’ about what it was like growing up in the north of Kiev, Ukraine, which was around 100 kilometres from the power plant.
During the thread, the Reddit user explained that residents of Kiev weren’t told about the explosion for several days.
“We didn’t know what happened for almost two weeks,” they wrote.
“People celebrated Mayday parade [May 1, 1986], as levels of radiation were off the charts. Kids like me, myself included, rode bikes in fallout rain and swam in rivers with nuclear run off, as our government kept silent about the disaster.”
Once residents learned what had happened, the streets of Kiev quickly became deserted.
“A few months before Chernobyl, Soviet movie theatres actually ran a ‘children’s cartoon’ [propaganda about the US of Hiroshima]. When the news did come out, I expected everyone I knew to die of radiation,” they explained. “It was very frightening.”
“After people eventually did find out, the town turned ghostly. Once busy streets were nearly empty – people stayed indoors. If you looked out the window, it was so eerie,” they added.
“We were looking to see which way the clouds were going – if towards us, we had to stay indoors, if away from us, we could go outside.”