Thirty years ago on 26 April 1986 Chernobyl’s fourth reactor exploded in the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster – leaving the area empty of human life.
The accident claimed the lives of 31 people at the time but the wider long-term effects such as cancers are almost impossible to quantify. To this day there is a 19-mile exclusion zone around the site to protect people from the dangers of radioactive material.
It’ll be 20,000 years before the area is safe to inhabit again, but photographer Jerzy Wierzbicki braved the radiation to capture these haunting shots.
Guards with AK-47s protect the area from tourists and it is notoriously tricky to visit the exclusion zone.
Despite the obvious dangers from radiation about 300 residents refused to evacuate their homes and some of them still live there.
Because most humans stay away from the exculsion zone it has become an unintentional haven for plants and animals. There are wolves, beavers and bison all living in the area blissfully unaware of the danger of radiation and happily protected from hunters.
I’m glad Jerzy was brave enough to help me see inside this fascinating part of the world, because I certainly wasn’t volunteering for a wander around a nuclear wasteland!