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Kurdi dengeamerika. Latin America. At the entrance to Reactor 3, next to the concrete sarcophagus hastily thrown over Reactor 4, the scanners were equally silent as we pressed our hands into the vertical pads. An executive from the UK company that supplied the machines later called me to claim the Soviets had turned up the dose levels to avoid triggering an alert.
The saplings were all bizarre mutations, some with needles growing backwards. There was no sign of wildlife, not even birds. The researchers spoke of mice with six toes and deformed teeth. The Soviets were not the only ones who lied.
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant - Wikipedia
Dissident scientist Andrei Sakharov was also deceived. Many doctors insisted there had been a spike in the number of cancers and leukemias. Others had heart defects, and thyroid cancers thought to have been caused by radioactive iodine. In bare, prison-like hospitals, parents would thrust children at us and beg us to take them to the UK or plead for medicines or money for medicines. Oncologists told us they were so short of chemotherapy drugs they would give one sick child half a protocol and another the other half, condemning both.
For me, one particular girl, Oksana, and her family, encapsulated the human tragedy. On 1 May , the teenager and her school friends were ordered out on to the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev to take part in traditional parades.
The truth about Chernobyl? I saw it with my own eyes…
He told us he had been more scared of the still raging reactor fire than the silent, invisible killer he was breathing in and out. In the next room, Oksana lay dying, a skeletal figure staring blindly at the ceiling, who bore no resemblance to the smiling blond girl in a photograph on the mantlepiece. She did not speak and did not appear to respond to anything or to move, except to blink slowly every few minutes.
Oksana died, as did many others —but because no data was kept from before the disaster, nothing can be proven.
Today, as the TV series points out, the official number of directly attributable victims of Chernobyl is John and I returned several times to Chernobyl. Now my photographer friend John Downing has terminal lung cancer. Like many others, he will never know.
John reminded me of a scientist we met in Moscow. The man had spent some time in Chernobyl. He took a notebook out of his desk and ran a Geiger counter over it, which started crackling like mad. Like radiation, Kremlin propaganda has a long half-life.