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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Chernobyl Tales
First broadcast April 2006

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the day the earth stood still for Ukraine.

Twenty years on, Olga Betko returns to her mother country to talk to those whose lives were shaken by the worst ever nuclear accident and hears how much has changed.

Part One: The explosion

In Ukraine, everyone remembers where they were on 26 April 1986. It was the day when Chernobyl's reactor no.4 exploded.

The town of Pripyat, home to 50,000 people, was heralded by the Communist party as the world's newest city when it was constructed in the 70s; it was to be one of the most shortlived. In 1986, the area immediately surrounding the Chernobyl power complex absorbed 200 times more radiation than Hiroshima.

In the first part of Chernobyl Tales, we return to the deserted town - with its rusted amusement park, books still open on classroom desks - in the shadow of the reactor.

We meet workers who took part in the rescue operation, former inhabitants returning to Pripyat and evacuees whose lives were permanently harmed by the fallout they absorbed in the 36 hours before evacuation.

They recall what happened in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and provide a glimpse of the haunted place which left a scar on the soul of Ukraine.

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