Till Lindemann, the frontman of German band Rammstein, has had a tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – in the most Rammstein way possible.
Following a gig in Ukraine’s capital Kiev last Friday, Lindemann visited the ghost town of Pripyat and rode an abandoned merry-go-round.
In a black-and-white video he posted to Instagram, the 57-year-old is whistling and laughing as he rides with his legs crossed.
“Till, you are shining with happiness,” a fan joked.
Another commenter wrote: “You can record the clicks of the Geiger counter on the spot as a rhythm section track.”
The site was opened to tourists around a decade ago; access to the zone is granted only though special checkpoints, where people have to undergo radiation checks. If a person’s clothing is found to be contaminated, they may be asked to wash off the radiation particles or, if it is not possible, even throw the clothes away.
Tourists are specifically advised against putting equipment on the soil and touching household items or infrastructure left behind after the disaster.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, just 3 km away from Pripyat, became the site of one of the worst man-made disasters in history on 26 April 1986. At the time, a nuclear reactor burst open during a failed shutdown being carried out just before routine maintenance, releasing plumes of radioactive material like corium, uranium, and plutonium.
The explosion killed 2 plant workers, and 29 additional workers and first responders died from the effects of radiation (this is the official death toll which remains disputed). It also exposed to radiation vast areas, mainly in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, home to nearly 8.4 million people.
The towns of Pripyat and Chernobyl, as well as 74 nearby villages, were evacuated and an exclusion zone set up within 30 kilometres of the epicentre. The damaged reactor was enclosed in a protective concrete sarcophagus, then covered with a newer steel structure in 2016.