Sirens have eerily wailed across the derelict and overgrown landscape of Chernobyl to mark the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.
The sirens sounded at the exact time the first explosion rocked the Ukraine nuclear plant on April 26, 1986.
That explosion blasted the roof off the plant and allowed a deadly cloud of radioactive gas to escape.
The Chernobyl fall-out drifted across The Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and was detected as far as 1,500 miles away in Wales and Ireland.
The radiation poured out of the nuclear reactor almost unchecked for 10 days.
More than 77 square miles of land was contaminated.
Deserted, overgrown and decaying
A 19-mile exclusion zone was put in place around Chernobyl and is still patrolled and enforced three decades on.
More than 250,000 people were displaced and rehoused after the disaster, while 31 clean-up workers died and thousands more deaths have been linked to symptoms rooted in radiation poisoning.
Medical services and charities working in the region report babies are still born with deformities related to radiation sickness and the incidence of rare cancers in the population is much higher than normal.
Chernobyl is a ghost town.
Homes and businesses around the plant are deserted, overgrown and disintegrating as nature reclaims and cleanses the land.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko led the remembrance services by laying a wreath at a ceremony in the Ukraine capital, Kiev.
He then went to Chernobyl and spoke former workers and their families at the nuclear plant.
Poroshenko classed the Chernobyl clean up as one of the country’s strongest challenges, comparing the disaster with Nazi occupation in the Second World War and Russian aggression over the annexation of The Crimea.
“It’s a shame that when our country needs financial help to deal with the aftermath of Chernobyl that money that could be spent on supporting the victims has to go on defence and security due to the Russians,” he said.
Poroshenko also explained work is progressing on a 2 billion euro concrete coffin for the 200 tonnes of radioactive uranium left in the plant.
The fear is the building could collapse and allow a new radiation cloud to escape if left to decay.