Christmas Tree Put Up In Chernobyl For First Time Since 1986 Disaster
The festive season has been celebrated in Pripyat, Ukraine, for the first time since the Chernobyl disaster as former residents returned to put up a Christmas tree.
The city is located about 3km (1.9 miles) from the former Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and was once home to more than 47,000 residents, but as a result of the 1986 nuclear disaster it is now nothing more than a ghost town.
Locals were evacuated from the city after one of the plant’s four reactors exploded, resulting in the worst nuclear power disaster ever.
Many residents believed they would be able to return home after a short period of time, but authorities established the exclusion zone, an area of more than 4,000 square kilometres surrounding the nuclear power plant and encompassing Pripyat, and more than three decades later the city remains deserted because of radiation pollution.
Though the city is empty, some of its former residents felt it deserved some festive cheer and worked with the Association of Chernobyl Tour Operators as part of a campaign to bring Christmas to their old home, which has become a popular tourist destination.
A Christmas tree was put up in Pripyat’s central square and decorated with toys, family photographs and clock decorations, Ukraine’s ZIK TV channel reported as per the BBC.
The clock decorations are said to symbolise ‘the flow of time and the fact that over time the town does not die but gets revived’.
Kateryna Aslamova, from the Chernobyl Tour company, revealed the occasion was the first time some former residents had returned to Pripyat since their evacuation. The campaign is said to be an attempt to draw public attention to the cultural heritage of the exclusion zone.
Commenting on the campaign, Kateryna said:
The town must live, and for this to happen it must be saved.
In a post on Instagram, the Chernobyl Tour company explained it believes Pripyat should become a ‘Monument of National Importance and a UNESCO World Heritage site’ to help protect the city.
The company said the ghost city is coming back to life, commenting:
As time goes by, the town does not die but gets revived. Every day it is filled with international tourists from all over the world.
Together with the former residents of Pripyat, we are very thankful to all the activists and journalists who took part in this event.
The Christmas tree is a lovely way to bring life and colour back to the abandoned town; hopefully it will encourage visitors to learn more about its history and those affected by the nuclear disaster.
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