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After the Apocalypse, it is clear that Nature will triumph. The post-Armageddon universe I am standing in now, the abandoned village of Zalissya, once home to 3,000 people, has been swallowed by the forest.
It's a captivating wilderness of pine trees, wild pansies and painted lady butterflies. Large mammals such as bison, moose, lynx, deer, wolves and brown bears roam here unthreatened. They know when their worst enemy —man — has long gone.
Homes - Sheets - Music - Floors - Lada
We walk past collapsed homes; in one I see sheets of music scattered over the floors, while a Lada car rusts outside another, waiting for an owner who will never return.
At the Garden of Remembrance to those who died in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, a profusion of wild flowers wreathe the scores of names that are inscribed there. Above the stage in what was the small but ornate Palace of Culture is the slogan 'Let Communism Live. It is the Bright Future for All Mankind.'
Legacy - Terror - Years - Number - Clicks
The legacy of the terror that raged through here 33 years ago reveals itself in the number of clicks on the device I hold in my hand.
Even inside our vehicle and at a distance, the radiation seeping from the ground at the Red Forest site makes the Geiger counter — which measures ionizing radiation — go crazy. It leaps to some 50 times normal levels.
Warning - Alarm - Dose - Equivalent - X-ray
The warning alarm sounds at once. The dose is the equivalent of a whole-mouth dental X-ray, I'm told. It is all relative, you comfort yourself. Not harmful in these short doses. Not like in 1986.
Then suddenly, above the far treeline, I glimpse for the first time the monster of the imagination; the top of the stainless steel 'sarcophagus' built over the remains of Reactor No 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. With the sight comes a thrill of...
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