Fallout Vacation: Chernobyl and Fukushima Become Tourist Attractions

© Sputnik / Evgeny KotenkoThe city of Pripyat located in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
The city of Pripyat located in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. - Sputnik International
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While the majority of tourists usually prefer to spend their vacations at upmarket resorts or snapping pictures of iconic landmarks, there’s also no shortage of people who willingly travel into some of the most foreboding corners of the world, including the radioactive wastes of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

The words 'Chernobyl' and 'Fukushima' have now effectively became synonymous with ‘nuclear disaster’. The two plants became sites of the worst nuclear catastrophes in history, both of them graded Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

And despite the fact that the facilities are situated thousands of kilometers apart from each other, not to mention the fact that the Fukushima Daiichi disaster took place nearly 25 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe, some pictures taken at the two sites look eerily similar.

© AFP 2022 / Yoshikazu TsunoSelf Defense Force soldiers remove debris at tsunami washed field in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011.Minamisoma city mayor Katsunobu Sakurai drew global attention with his 11-minute "S.O.S." video after the March 11 disaster when he warned of starvation among those left behind in what had become a ghost town. Since then, aid has flooded in and many residents have returned to those parts of the town that lie outside the 20-kilometre no-go zone around the radiation-leaking atomic plant.
Self Defense Force soldiers remove debris at tsunami washed field in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011. - Sputnik International
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Self Defense Force soldiers remove debris at tsunami washed field in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011.Minamisoma city mayor Katsunobu Sakurai drew global attention with his 11-minute "S.O.S." video after the March 11 disaster when he warned of starvation among those left behind in what had become a ghost town. Since then, aid has flooded in and many residents have returned to those parts of the town that lie outside the 20-kilometre no-go zone around the radiation-leaking atomic plant.
© AFP 2022 / STFThe city of Gomel in Belarus, afflicted by the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
The city of Gomel in Belarus, afflicted by the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. - Sputnik International
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The city of Gomel in Belarus, afflicted by the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
© AFP 2022 / TASSA picture dated 26 April 1996 for the 10th anniversary of the chernobyl disaster, showing the ghost city of Pripyat. This attractions park has been once local children's favourite place of rest.
Amusement park at the abandoned city of Pripyat. - Sputnik International
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A picture dated 26 April 1996 for the 10th anniversary of the chernobyl disaster, showing the ghost city of Pripyat. This attractions park has been once local children's favourite place of rest.
© AP Photo / Sergey PonomarevThis April 21, 2011 photo shows a playground at a kindergarten in the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Chernobyl and Fukushima are some 5,000 miles apart but have much in common. The towns nearest to each of these stricken nuclear power stations, in Ukraine and Japan, whose disasters struck 25 years apart, already reveal eerie similarities.
Playground at a kindergarten in the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 12-mile evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. - Sputnik International
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This April 21, 2011 photo shows a playground at a kindergarten in the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Chernobyl and Fukushima are some 5,000 miles apart but have much in common. The towns nearest to each of these stricken nuclear power stations, in Ukraine and Japan, whose disasters struck 25 years apart, already reveal eerie similarities.
© Go TakayamaPeople line up for radiation screening at Koryama in Fukushima prefecture on March 21, 2011. Workers were temporarily evacuated from part of the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant in northeast Japan when smoke rose from one of the reactors. Japan has ordered a halt to shipments of certain foods from four prefectures after abnormal radiation levels were found in products near a quake-hit nuclear plant, a government spokesman said on March 21.
People line up for radiation screening at Koryama in Fukushima prefecture on March 21, 2011. - Sputnik International
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People line up for radiation screening at Koryama in Fukushima prefecture on March 21, 2011. Workers were temporarily evacuated from part of the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant in northeast Japan when smoke rose from one of the reactors. Japan has ordered a halt to shipments of certain foods from four prefectures after abnormal radiation levels were found in products near a quake-hit nuclear plant, a government spokesman said on March 21.
© Sputnik / Igor Kostin4th Unit of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
4th Unit of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. - Sputnik International
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4th Unit of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
© Sputnik / YniakinSoldiers check radiation levels of cars leaving the city of Chernobyl.
Soldiers check radiation levels of cars leaving the city of Chernobyl. - Sputnik International
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Soldiers check radiation levels of cars leaving the city of Chernobyl.
© AFP 2022 / HO / AIR PHOTO SERVICEThis aerial view, taken by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of Air Photo Service on March 24, 2011 shows Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. At left is the damaged fourth reactor, while at right the damaged third reactor.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. - Sputnik International
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This aerial view, taken by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of Air Photo Service on March 24, 2011 shows Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. At left is the damaged fourth reactor, while at right the damaged third reactor.
© AFP 2022 / TASS / ZufarovAn aerial shot, dated 31 December1986, of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine. A major explosion, 26 April 1996, at the plant affected 3,235,984 Ukrainians, according to local statistics, and sent radioactive clouds all over Europe.
Chernobyl nuclear plant - Sputnik International
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An aerial shot, dated 31 December1986, of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine. A major explosion, 26 April 1996, at the plant affected 3,235,984 Ukrainians, according to local statistics, and sent radioactive clouds all over Europe.
© AFP 2022 / Toru YamanakaLocal residents look at a damaged house caused by a tsunami in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture on March 12, 2011. More than 1,000 people were feared dead and authorities warned a meltdown may be under way at a nuclear plant Saturday after a monster tsunami devastated a swathe of northeast Japan.
Local residents look at a damaged house caused by a tsunami in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture. - Sputnik International
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Local residents look at a damaged house caused by a tsunami in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture on March 12, 2011. More than 1,000 people were feared dead and authorities warned a meltdown may be under way at a nuclear plant Saturday after a monster tsunami devastated a swathe of northeast Japan.
© AP Photo / Sergey PonomarevIn this June 8, 2011 photo, a doll with a gas mask lies on the frame of a bed in the sleeping room of a kindergarten in the deserted town of in Pripyat, Ukraine, some 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Chernobyl and Fukushima are some 5,000 miles apart but have much in common. The towns nearest to each of these stricken nuclear power stations, in Ukraine and Japan, whose disasters struck 25 years apart, already reveal eerie similarities.
A doll with a gas mask lies on the frame of a bed in the sleeping room of a kindergarten in the deserted town of in Pripyat. - Sputnik International
11/26
In this June 8, 2011 photo, a doll with a gas mask lies on the frame of a bed in the sleeping room of a kindergarten in the deserted town of in Pripyat, Ukraine, some 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Chernobyl and Fukushima are some 5,000 miles apart but have much in common. The towns nearest to each of these stricken nuclear power stations, in Ukraine and Japan, whose disasters struck 25 years apart, already reveal eerie similarities.
© Sputnik / Igor KostinA member of decontamination team sprays a house in Chernobyl.
A member of decontamination team sprays a house in Chernobyl. - Sputnik International
12/26
A member of decontamination team sprays a house in Chernobyl.
© AFP 2022 / Yoshikazu TsunoJapan's Self-Defense Force soldiers remove debris left by the March 11 tsunami in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011. The March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami left some 26,000 dead or missing and obliterated whole towns and villages on the northeast coast.
Japan's Self-Defense Force soldiers remove debris left by the March 11 tsunami in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011. - Sputnik International
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Japan's Self-Defense Force soldiers remove debris left by the March 11 tsunami in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011. The March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami left some 26,000 dead or missing and obliterated whole towns and villages on the northeast coast.
© Sputnik / Igor KostinTechnicians clear debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit.
Technicians clear debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit. - Sputnik International
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Technicians clear debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit.
© AFP 2022 / JIJI PRESSKoriyama fire department staff check radiation levels of rescue personnel in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture on March 13, 2011. Japan battled a feared meltdown of two reactors at a quake-hit nuclear plant, as the full horror of the disaster emerged on the ravaged northeast coast where more than 10,000 were feared dead. An explosion at the ageing Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant blew apart the building housing one of its reactors om March 12, a day after the biggest quake ever recorded in Japan unleashed a monster 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami.
Koriyama fire department staff check radiation levels of rescue personnel in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture on March 13, 2011. - Sputnik International
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Koriyama fire department staff check radiation levels of rescue personnel in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture on March 13, 2011. Japan battled a feared meltdown of two reactors at a quake-hit nuclear plant, as the full horror of the disaster emerged on the ravaged northeast coast where more than 10,000 were feared dead. An explosion at the ageing Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant blew apart the building housing one of its reactors om March 12, a day after the biggest quake ever recorded in Japan unleashed a monster 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami.
© Sputnik / Igor KostinPersonnel assigned to remove debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit don protective suits.
Personnel assigned to remove debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit don protective suits. - Sputnik International
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Personnel assigned to remove debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit don protective suits.
© AP Photo / Greg BakerA bicycle and doghouse sit amongst overgrown grass and weeds at an abandoned farm in Iitate, just outside the 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, in northeast Japan. Residents were forced to evacuate the town after radiation levels from the leaking plant exceeded those inside the exclusion zone.
A bicycle and doghouse sit amongst overgrown grass and weeds at an abandoned farm in Iitate, just outside the 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. - Sputnik International
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A bicycle and doghouse sit amongst overgrown grass and weeds at an abandoned farm in Iitate, just outside the 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, in northeast Japan. Residents were forced to evacuate the town after radiation levels from the leaking plant exceeded those inside the exclusion zone.
© AFP 2022 / StringerPolicemen in radiation proof suits gather to search for missing victims in Namie, Fukushima prefecture, within 20km from Stricken Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear power plant on April 17, 2011. Japan's embattled TEPCO offered the timeline on April 17, 2011, more than five weeks after a giant quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at its six-reactor Fukushima atomic power station.
Policemen in radiation proof suits gather to search for missing victims in Namie, Fukushima prefecture. - Sputnik International
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Policemen in radiation proof suits gather to search for missing victims in Namie, Fukushima prefecture, within 20km from Stricken Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear power plant on April 17, 2011. Japan's embattled TEPCO offered the timeline on April 17, 2011, more than five weeks after a giant quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at its six-reactor Fukushima atomic power station.
© Sputnik / Vitaliy AnkovTechnicians wearing protective suits conduct decontamination of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.
Technicians wearing protective suits conduct decontamination of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. - Sputnik International
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Technicians wearing protective suits conduct decontamination of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.
© AFP 2022 / STFPicture taken in April 1990 in chernobyl of buildings abandoned because of the radioactive contamination produced by the Chernobyl nuclear plant No. 4 reactor's blast, 26 April 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident of the 20th century.
Abandoned buildings in Chernobyl - Sputnik International
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Picture taken in April 1990 in chernobyl of buildings abandoned because of the radioactive contamination produced by the Chernobyl nuclear plant No. 4 reactor's blast, 26 April 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident of the 20th century.
© AFP 2022 / JIJI PRESSAn aerial view shows the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Japanese town of Futaba, Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011. Japan scrambled to prevent nuclear accidents at two atomic plants where reactor cooling systems failed after a massive earthquake, as it evacuated tens of thousands of residents. Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the plants, said it had released some radioactive vapour into the atmosphere at one plant to relieve building reactor pressure, but said the move posed no health risks.
An aerial view of the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. - Sputnik International
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An aerial view shows the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Japanese town of Futaba, Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011. Japan scrambled to prevent nuclear accidents at two atomic plants where reactor cooling systems failed after a massive earthquake, as it evacuated tens of thousands of residents. Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the plants, said it had released some radioactive vapour into the atmosphere at one plant to relieve building reactor pressure, but said the move posed no health risks.
© AFP 2022 / TASS / ZufarovPhoto, dated 01 October 1986, showing repairs being carried out on the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine, following a major explosion 26 April 1996 which, according to official statistics, affected 3,235,984 Ukrainians and sent radioactive clouds all over Europe.
The view of crippled Chernobyl Nuclear Plant - Sputnik International
22/26
Photo, dated 01 October 1986, showing repairs being carried out on the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine, following a major explosion 26 April 1996 which, according to official statistics, affected 3,235,984 Ukrainians and sent radioactive clouds all over Europe.
© AFP 2022 / Mike ClarkeOnly a couple of pedestrians are seen in the empty streets of Ichinoseki in Miyagi prefecture on March 17, 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11 and the subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant. The official number of dead and missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast has hit 14,650, police said on March 17, a rise of nearly 1,000 in just a few hours.
The deserted streets of  Ichinoseki in Miyagi prefecture. - Sputnik International
23/26
Only a couple of pedestrians are seen in the empty streets of Ichinoseki in Miyagi prefecture on March 17, 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11 and the subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant. The official number of dead and missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast has hit 14,650, police said on March 17, a rise of nearly 1,000 in just a few hours.
© Photo : IAEA/Giovanni VerliniAbandoned school in Fukushima prefecture.
Abandoned school in Fukushima prefecture. - Sputnik International
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Abandoned school in Fukushima prefecture.
© Flickr / Kyle Taylor Classrom in an abandoned school in Chernobyl.
Classrom in an abandoned school in Chernobyl. - Sputnik International
25/26
Classrom in an abandoned school in Chernobyl.
© AP Photo / David GuttenfelderСrippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan. The U.S. had repeatedly warned Japan about vulnerabilities at its nuclear plants in case of a Sept. 11-style terror attack. It turned out Washington was right about the soft spots, but wrong about the enemy that would strike them. When nature unleashed its own fury on Japan last year, the elements Washington identified as most vulnerable in an attack, spent fuel pools, cooling systems, backup electricity, were the ones worst hit in Japan's disaster.
Сrippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan. - Sputnik International
26/26
Сrippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan. The U.S. had repeatedly warned Japan about vulnerabilities at its nuclear plants in case of a Sept. 11-style terror attack. It turned out Washington was right about the soft spots, but wrong about the enemy that would strike them. When nature unleashed its own fury on Japan last year, the elements Washington identified as most vulnerable in an attack, spent fuel pools, cooling systems, backup electricity, were the ones worst hit in Japan's disaster.
1/26
Self Defense Force soldiers remove debris at tsunami washed field in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011.Minamisoma city mayor Katsunobu Sakurai drew global attention with his 11-minute "S.O.S." video after the March 11 disaster when he warned of starvation among those left behind in what had become a ghost town. Since then, aid has flooded in and many residents have returned to those parts of the town that lie outside the 20-kilometre no-go zone around the radiation-leaking atomic plant.
2/26
The city of Gomel in Belarus, afflicted by the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
3/26
A picture dated 26 April 1996 for the 10th anniversary of the chernobyl disaster, showing the ghost city of Pripyat. This attractions park has been once local children's favourite place of rest.
4/26
This April 21, 2011 photo shows a playground at a kindergarten in the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Chernobyl and Fukushima are some 5,000 miles apart but have much in common. The towns nearest to each of these stricken nuclear power stations, in Ukraine and Japan, whose disasters struck 25 years apart, already reveal eerie similarities.
5/26
People line up for radiation screening at Koryama in Fukushima prefecture on March 21, 2011. Workers were temporarily evacuated from part of the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant in northeast Japan when smoke rose from one of the reactors. Japan has ordered a halt to shipments of certain foods from four prefectures after abnormal radiation levels were found in products near a quake-hit nuclear plant, a government spokesman said on March 21.
6/26
4th Unit of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
7/26
Soldiers check radiation levels of cars leaving the city of Chernobyl.
8/26
This aerial view, taken by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of Air Photo Service on March 24, 2011 shows Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. At left is the damaged fourth reactor, while at right the damaged third reactor.
9/26
An aerial shot, dated 31 December1986, of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine. A major explosion, 26 April 1996, at the plant affected 3,235,984 Ukrainians, according to local statistics, and sent radioactive clouds all over Europe.
10/26
Local residents look at a damaged house caused by a tsunami in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture on March 12, 2011. More than 1,000 people were feared dead and authorities warned a meltdown may be under way at a nuclear plant Saturday after a monster tsunami devastated a swathe of northeast Japan.
11/26
In this June 8, 2011 photo, a doll with a gas mask lies on the frame of a bed in the sleeping room of a kindergarten in the deserted town of in Pripyat, Ukraine, some 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Chernobyl and Fukushima are some 5,000 miles apart but have much in common. The towns nearest to each of these stricken nuclear power stations, in Ukraine and Japan, whose disasters struck 25 years apart, already reveal eerie similarities.
12/26
A member of decontamination team sprays a house in Chernobyl.
13/26
Japan's Self-Defense Force soldiers remove debris left by the March 11 tsunami in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on May 2, 2011. The March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami left some 26,000 dead or missing and obliterated whole towns and villages on the northeast coast.
14/26
Technicians clear debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit.
15/26
Koriyama fire department staff check radiation levels of rescue personnel in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture on March 13, 2011. Japan battled a feared meltdown of two reactors at a quake-hit nuclear plant, as the full horror of the disaster emerged on the ravaged northeast coast where more than 10,000 were feared dead. An explosion at the ageing Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant blew apart the building housing one of its reactors om March 12, a day after the biggest quake ever recorded in Japan unleashed a monster 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami.
16/26
Personnel assigned to remove debris from the roof of the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Plant unit don protective suits.
17/26
A bicycle and doghouse sit amongst overgrown grass and weeds at an abandoned farm in Iitate, just outside the 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, in northeast Japan. Residents were forced to evacuate the town after radiation levels from the leaking plant exceeded those inside the exclusion zone.
18/26
Policemen in radiation proof suits gather to search for missing victims in Namie, Fukushima prefecture, within 20km from Stricken Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear power plant on April 17, 2011. Japan's embattled TEPCO offered the timeline on April 17, 2011, more than five weeks after a giant quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at its six-reactor Fukushima atomic power station.
19/26
Technicians wearing protective suits conduct decontamination of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.
20/26
Picture taken in April 1990 in chernobyl of buildings abandoned because of the radioactive contamination produced by the Chernobyl nuclear plant No. 4 reactor's blast, 26 April 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident of the 20th century.
21/26
An aerial view shows the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Japanese town of Futaba, Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011. Japan scrambled to prevent nuclear accidents at two atomic plants where reactor cooling systems failed after a massive earthquake, as it evacuated tens of thousands of residents. Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the plants, said it had released some radioactive vapour into the atmosphere at one plant to relieve building reactor pressure, but said the move posed no health risks.
22/26
Photo, dated 01 October 1986, showing repairs being carried out on the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine, following a major explosion 26 April 1996 which, according to official statistics, affected 3,235,984 Ukrainians and sent radioactive clouds all over Europe.
23/26
Only a couple of pedestrians are seen in the empty streets of Ichinoseki in Miyagi prefecture on March 17, 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11 and the subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant. The official number of dead and missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast has hit 14,650, police said on March 17, a rise of nearly 1,000 in just a few hours.
24/26
Abandoned school in Fukushima prefecture.
25/26
Classrom in an abandoned school in Chernobyl.
26/26
Сrippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan. The U.S. had repeatedly warned Japan about vulnerabilities at its nuclear plants in case of a Sept. 11-style terror attack. It turned out Washington was right about the soft spots, but wrong about the enemy that would strike them. When nature unleashed its own fury on Japan last year, the elements Washington identified as most vulnerable in an attack, spent fuel pools, cooling systems, backup electricity, were the ones worst hit in Japan's disaster.

However, despite the unnerving atmosphere and a host of clear and present dangers concealed there, the Chernobyl exclusion zone has become a popular destination not just for looters, but for tourists from all over the world as well, with the first tours to the dangerous area reportedly taking place as early as 1995.

The popularity of the radioactive territory surrounding the crippled Chernobyl plant also surged in 2007, following the release of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. videogame, as the game’s setting was closely modelled after the real Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Eventually, despite the fact that any unauthorized visit to the exclusion zone is considered a criminal offense in Ukraine, the people who enjoy illegally infiltrating that area even formed their own subculture. Calling themselves stalkers, they became true adepts at bypassing all sorts of natural and manmade obstacles that can be encountered during an illegal trip to the nuclear graveyard of Chernobyl.

Furthermore, a number of people actually live in the Chernobyl exclusion zone – former residents who either came to reclaim their homes, abandoned during the evacuation in 1986, or squatters who moved into derelict buildings.

And despite the dangers of Chernobyl, it has become a "hot" hit with tourists. In 2003 Forbes magazine even named the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant as a most "exotic" tourist destination in the world.

Representatives of Go2Chernobyl, one of the largest companies that sell tours to Chernobyl, told Sputnik that last year alone they had nearly 20,000 clients, and that sometimes they get up to 3-4 thousand clients per week.

One of the company guides, Victor, also added that they were once visited by a man from Japan who apparently is looking into creating a similar enterprise to sell tours to Fukushima Daiichi plant.

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