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Life in the Nuclear Wasteland: Chernobyl Disaster 30 Years Later

© Sputnik / Grigory Vasilnko / Go to the photo bankPripyat, Chernobyl exclusion zone
Pripyat, Chernobyl exclusion zone - Sputnik International
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Following the Chernobyl accident in April 1986, more than 115,000 people were evacuated from the 30-kilometer zone around the notorious plant.

However, despite safety warnings, some of these people have returned. According to Deutsche Welle, most of them missed their homes and couldn't imagine living in another place.

"I missed my home very much. I wanted to see what was going on in my home town, my house. I suffered a lot, my soul was hurting," the 78-year-old Evgeny told the media source.

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Evgeny is not the only one who has returned to the closed area because of the homesickness. About 180 people are currently living there: 80 people — in Chernobyl and 100 people — in neighboring villages, Deutsche Welle wrote.

The radiation level in Chernobyl and nearby settlements still remains high, but it has not prevented local residents from returning home. Like Evgeny, most of them came to the area secretly, without permission.

The returnees are being called "self-settlers" and live without any benefits of civilization. They grow vegetables and fruits, gather mushrooms in the woods and drink water from wells, have no TVs and buy food from a grocery van which comes to the area twice a month.

"We are old, working is becoming hard, but we still grow cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes," local resident Maria says. "Sometimes, we visit our neighbors, try to support each other," the woman explained.

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A nuclear disaster took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant located in Ukraine on April 1986. Since the accident, Russian authorities have introduced strict control over the territories of the Chernobyl because of the high level of radioactive contamination and the area around the station has been closed to the public.

Despite restrictions, every year, the exclusion zone is visited by thousands of tourists. Earlier, these were mostly Russians, but today most of the guests come from Poland, the Czech Republic and the US.

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