• March 26, 2014

Q&A: Gerd Ludwig’s Long Look at the Chernobyl Disaster

Alexa Keefe

“Deep inside, at a dark hallway, we stopped in front of a heavy metal door. The engineer indicated I had only a brief moment to shoot. It took him a long minute to open the jammed door. The adrenaline surge was extraordinary. The room was absolutely dark, lit only by our headlamps. Wires were obstructing my view. At the far end of the room I could make out a clock. I was only able to fire off a few frames and wanted to wait for my flash to recharge. But he already pulled me out. I checked my pictures. Out of focus! I begged him to allow me in one more time. He gave me a few more seconds to frame the clock showing 1:23:58 AM—the time when on 26 April, 1986 in the building that housed Energy Block # 4, time stood forever still.” —Gerd Ludwig on photographing inside reactor #4, where an explosion caused a catastrophic nuclear meltdown. Ludwig describes this as one of the most challenging situations he has ever photographed.

The evacuated city of Pripyat, once brimming with life, is now a chilling ghost town. For an exiled resident, the stillness of a city boulevard stirs memories of her former life. In her hand is an old photo of the same street years earlier.
2005. The evacuated city of Pripyat, once brimming with life, is now a chilling ghost town. For an exiled resident, the stillness of a city boulevard stirs memories of her former life. In her hand is an old photo of the same street years earlier.
Picture of an abandoned school in Pripyat, Ukraine
2005. A peeling mural of an abandoned school creates a poignant reminder of the residents that once called Pripyat home.

When the tsunami caused disastrous damage to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, German photographer Gerd Ludwig’s agency, Institute, was contacted by photo editors at Time wanting to assign him for the story. Ludwig was unreachable, at a hotel without internet access at the site of another disaster that happened 25 years before—Chernobyl.

Ludwig has been photographing Chernobyl since 1993 and has returned to the area three times since—in 2005, 2011 and 2013—ultimately venturing deeper inside the reactor than any Western photographer.

“Of all man-made environmental catastrophes in human history, Chernobyl is considered to have caused the most lasting impact. Seeing the full extent of the destruction inside the reactor, and the full force of health consequences—not only in Ukraine but also in neighboring Belarus—is why I felt that I would need to revisit Chernobyl on a regular basis,” he says.

Ludwig is currently working on a photography book, the Long Shadow of Chernobyl, documenting his 20-year relationship with what noted scientist Alexei Okeanov calls “a fire that can’t be put out in our lifetimes.” Ludwig recently shared his thoughts with Proof:

Alexa Keefe : What is the most important part of telling this story?

Gerd Ludwig: These images remind us that accidents like Chernobyl are a possible outcome of nuclear power—anytime, anywhere. I want my project to stand as a document of this man-made disaster—to remember the countless victims of Chernobyl, and to warn future generations of the deadly consequences of human hubris.

On April 26, 1986, operators in this control room of reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant committed a fatal series of errors during a safety-test, triggering a reactor meltdown that resulted in the world's largest nuclear accident to date.
2011. On April 26, 1986, operators in this control room of reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant committed a fatal series of errors during a safety-test, triggering a reactor meltdown that resulted in the world’s largest nuclear accident to date.
Workers wearing plastic suits and respirators for protection pause briefly on their way to drill holes for support rods inside the shaky concrete sarcophagus, a structure hastily built after the explosion to isolate the radioactive rubble of Reactor #4. Their job is to keep the deteriorating enclosure standing until a planned replacement can be built.  It is hazardous work: radiation inside is so high that they constantly need to monitor their Geiger counters – and are allowed to work only one shift of 15 minutes per day.
2005. Workers wearing plastic suits and respirators for protection pause briefly on their way to drill holes for support rods inside the shaky concrete sarcophagus, a structure hastily built after the explosion to isolate the radioactive rubble of Reactor #4. It is hazardous work: radiation inside is so high that they constantly need to monitor their Geiger counters—and are allowed to work only one shift of 15 minutes per day.
Although radiation levels only allowed for a few minutes of access, workers initially had to pass over hazardous ladders to a section underneath the melted core with life-threatening contamination. In order to facilitate faster access, a daunting hallway, called “the leaning staircase” was erected. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine 2011
2011. Although radiation levels only allowed for a few minutes of access, workers initially had to pass over hazardous ladders to a section underneath the melted core with life-threatening contamination. In order to facilitate faster access, a daunting hallway, called “the leaning staircase” was erected.

Alexa: Were there times when you felt in danger?

Gerd: Exposing your body to radiation inside the reactor is only one side of the danger. The other risk comes with radioactive dust specs that can settle easily into soft materials. If ingested they can stay in your body and cause cancer.

After each entry into the reactor I undergo a careful cleaning process: leave the protective gear behind, take a long, hot shower, and change into clean clothes. When I asked a safety specialist to check my equipment after my last visit deep into the reactor, I could read in her face that she thought I was being paranoid. Reluctantly she checked my gear, but then her facial expression completely changed, and she kept repeating again and again “Oh my God! Oh my God! You need to clean your cameras. You need to wash them.”

It turned out that the camera straps were contaminated. I gave my cameras a good cleaning that night, until my Geiger counter indicated that they were fine. And I got new camera straps.

Severely physically and mentally handicapped, 5-year-old Igor was given up by his parents and now lives at a children’s mental asylum, which cares for abandoned and orphaned children with disabilities. It is one of several such facilities in rural southern Belarus receiving support from Chernobyl Children International, an aid organization established in 1991 in the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.Vesnova, Belarus, 2005
2005. Severely physically and mentally handicapped, 5-year-old Igor was given up by his parents and now lives at a children’s mental asylum, which cares for abandoned and orphaned children with disabilities. It is one of several such facilities in rural southern Belarus receiving support from Chernobyl Children International, an aid organization established in 1991 in the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
Suffering from thyroid cancer, Oleg Shapiro, 54, and Dima Bogdanovich, 13, receive care at a thyroid hospital in Minsk, where surgery is performed on a daily basis. As a liquidator, Oleg was exposed to extreme levels of radiation. It was his third thyroid operation. Dima's mother claims that Chernobyl's nuclear fallout is responsible for her son’s cancer, but his doctors are more cautious: Belarusian officials are often instructed to downplay the severity of the radiation. Minsk, Belarus 2005
2005. Suffering from thyroid cancer, Oleg Shapiro, 54, and Dima Bogdanovich, 13, receive care at a thyroid hospital in Minsk, where surgery is performed on a daily basis. As a liquidator, Oleg was exposed to extreme levels of radiation. It was his third thyroid operation. Dima’s mother claims that Chernobyl’s nuclear fallout is responsible for her son’s cancer, but his doctors are more cautious: Belarusian officials are often instructed to downplay the severity of the radiation.

Alexa: You devote one section of your book to the human victims, particularly children born in the years following the disaster. Tell me about your experience photographing them.

Gerd: Much of the nuclear fallout drifted into the Gomel region of Belarus. In 2005, on assignment for National Geographic, I wanted to photograph the children in an orphanage. In one of the orphanages, I photographed 5-year-old Igor. Severely physically and mentally handicapped, he was given up by his parents, and lived at a home which cares for abandoned and orphaned children with disabilities. He caught my attention because most of the time he was sitting motionless, leaning against a wall. With poor eyesight and hearing he was unable to participate even in the slightest interaction with the other children around him. Once in a while his empty eyes wandered in the direction of the other kids in the room, but when they tried to hug him he started crying. Done photographing him I gave his hand a squeeze. The smile with which he reacted nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Alexa: Another group of people you have photographed are those who have returned to the Exclusion Zone to live—whom you have described as preferring to die on contaminated soil than of a broken heart in an anonymous suburb. What was their attitude towards you as someone coming to tell their story?

Gerd: No journalist can move freely in the zone. We have to be accompanied by a guide who works for the administration but we have to pay for their time. Since there are only a few hundred returnees living in the zone today, the guides know most of them. The only vehicles driving in the zone are those controlled by the administration. There is no public transportation and the returnees do not own cars. That is why many returnees enjoy visits by journalists. They are a welcome change into their rather uneventful daily routine. The guides recommend that journalists bring along goods such as fresh bread, cheeses, sweets that the returnees lack, as they rarely get the chance to leave their villages.

Many returnees are very hospitable, offering everything they grow and produce from their own land, from tomatoes to berries, from illegally caught fish to moonshine. Eating food grown on contaminated land makes me sometimes feel uncomfortable. But as a photographer you walk a thin line: you want to be safe but you also need people’s trust and cooperation to get the pictures.

Picture of an elderly woman who has returned to her village inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
2011. Kharytina Desha, 92, is one of the few elderly people who have returned to their village homes inside the Exclusion Zone. Although surrounded by devastation and isolation, she prefers to die on her own soil.
Picture of vines covering an abandoned house
2011. Vines encroach on an abandoned farmhouse in a remote area of the zone. In villages all over the Evacuation Zone, nature is reclaiming the deserted settlements.

Alexa: The landscape of Chernobyl is changing. Do you see this as a story that will you will continue to tell, or one that you are capturing before it is gone from memory?

Gerd: The reactor may be disappearing from sight under a high-tech dome, the buildings in Pripyat will collapse, the elderly returnees will have passed away, but I am afraid the story of Chernobyl will continue way beyond our lifetime. A scientist in Chernobyl told me, “We could erect fences in certain areas here stating: Not meant for human habitation for 24,000 years to come. And this is only the half-life of plutonium 239.”

The upcoming book though, is a caesura—a pause—but it will not be the end of my coverage. I am curious myself what will be next.

Alexa: What is it about this area of the world that draws you in?

Gerd: My personal relationship with Russia began as I grew up as a child in postwar Germany. My father had been drafted into the Sixth German Army that invaded the Soviet Union in 1942 and fought through southern Russia towards Stalingrad, where the Soviets decimated the German forces. He was lucky enough to be amongst the last soldiers evacuated.

In the darkness of our small refugee room—after WWII my parents had been expelled from their home in Bohemia—I would listen to the sad soothing voice of my father as he conjured images of endless winter landscapes of soldiers battling their way through snowstorms; and people hiding from them in stables and barns. It was not until I grew older that I began to grasp the darkness behind the stories: that the landscapes were stained with blood, the soldiers dying, and the people hiding were Russians filled with fear. My father told these bedtime stories to shed himself of terrible memories of war.

As a young teenager in the mid-1960’s, I was a member of the first postwar generation of Germans. Filled with guilt for my elders’ actions, I compensated by glorifying everything Germany tried to destroy. In particular, I idealized Russia and the communist Soviet system. Finally, Gorbachev’s glasnost—his call for openness in every part of life—confronted me with the social and political realities of a country that had been under totalitarian rule for seven decades.

A rooftop view from the former Polissya Hotel in the center of Pripyat shows the proximity of the ill-fated Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant to this former home of 50.000.  Today, Pripyat stands a ghost town over-run by nature. Pripyat, Ukraine 2005
2005. A rooftop view from the former Polissya Hotel in the center of Pripyat shows the proximity of the ill-fated Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant to this former home of 50,000.

Alexa: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Gerd: As engaged photographers we often report about human tragedies in the face of disaster, and take our cameras to uncharted areas with the understanding that our explorations are not without personal risk. We do this out of a deep commitment to important stories told on behalf of otherwise voiceless victims. While covering this story, I met many caring and courageous people who allowed me to expose their suffering solely in the hope that tragedies like Chernobyl may be prevented in the future.

Ludwig first brought his coverage of this story together in 2011 with an iPad App, The Long Shadow of Chernobyl. Today he is working on a photo book of the same name. The retrospective is made possible through a Kickstarter campaign.

There are 309 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. CeAnna S
    March 3, 2016

    I truly love your story of this terrible event, the pictures offer an insight into the ever present complicated relationship between earth and mankind. The photo of the mural on the wall is the most magical, most touching photograph I have ever seen. From the second I saw it, it took my breath away.

  2. Molly Peters
    April 25, 2015

    Karl, Igor is receiving great care from a wonderful charity named Chernobyl Children International

  3. Karl
    April 19, 2015

    Who becomes Igor, 5 years old?
    He had 5 years old, handicapped he lived in Bielorussie in Asylum . Im sorry to ask you, but I always remember it. And when I saw this picture of him…..Thanks

  4. Lesia Dacko
    October 23, 2014

    Moving and sad pictures. I studied photography. One photo can speak a thousand words. I congratulate you for risking your health in revealing to the world to see these pictures and learn about the Chernobyl disaster. Let us not forget that Chernobyl is not in Russia, it is in UKRAINE. Many UKRAINIANS have died and are still dying of cancer, and, innocent Ukrainian children born with deformities. Now Putin annexed Crimea which was part of Ukraine, where Ukrainian people used to go and relax. His so called “Green Men” are Russian KGB soldiers who were paid by Putin and, supplied with the best artillery to invade Ukraine and kill Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting for the freedom and a sovereign Ukraine. As if the Chernobyl disaster was not enough, and, covered by the the Russian regime so that the world would not know the truth, now this saddoPutinism regime has caused enormous Ukrainian bloodshed on Ukrainian soil.

  5. Aaron H.
    September 11, 2014

    In the end, nature wins. Nature will always win.

  6. Elisabetta
    August 9, 2014

    I remember it… I was a kid and the fields were full of “acetosella”, an edible herb. I wanted to eat it but my mother screamed when she saw me holding a bunch of acetosella. She told me there was a cloud full of poison over us, that everything was contaminated. She destroyed our vegetable garden and I wasn’t allowed to touch anything out of our house…still scares me!

  7. Anna
    July 27, 2014

    I grew up about 400 miles west of Chernobyl, and was only 12 when it happened. It didn’t impact us quite as badly, but I still remember the uncertainty quickly progressing to fear then horror. My mother is currently battling cancer, which we’re sure was caused by the fallout. Thank you so much for your courage to go there and show the world the truth. God bless you.

  8. MV
    July 8, 2014

    God Bless Always, People. From Puerto Rico Island

  9. Rini
    April 14, 2014

    I salute the brave photographer who risked his own life for public to make everyone remember and realize the dangerous side of Development and Power Generation, which can also be termed as Unsustainable Development. What to do with such nuclear power which causes irreparable harm to human beings of all ages and to the environment,to our Mother Nature, which feeds, nurtures and protects us. Almost 30 years have passed after the horrible incident, but this article and the photos made me imagine the chilling horror those people went through and it made me felt as if it happened just yesterday. Hope our World leaders and policy makers take a very serious note of it, and behave and act in a more humane way. Education worldwide should pay urgent focus on moral and human values than material value.

  10. Lewis Dutton
    April 12, 2014

    Proverbs 16 18: Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

  11. Judith Sheehan
    April 11, 2014

    Gerd -thank you. Undeniable and chilling Evidence of man/woman’s global ‘disease’ of ‘ hubris’ . Global taking ’30 pieces of silver’ / quick profits – devasting for future inter-generational consequences. NO MORE! Send these images and captions out to every Share Holder Group; every Current Affairs program; Directors of these planet killing Ologopolies; Demand cessation of irresponsibility. Demand transition to Renewable Energy NOW.

  12. C. Benz
    April 11, 2014

    Yes – there is safer technology to generate power than that which can poison life on earth as these haunting photographs exemplify.

  13. G. Mawman
    April 11, 2014

    This Photographer points thought at our terrible tendency to self destruct in War and Peace and our arrogant attitude of self-righteous acceptance.
    His Poignant Images and the commentary on this web page should serve to warn us all, that nuclear power exceeds our control.
    When will those who Govern our Nations learn that the health of the Earth is our most valuable asset ?
    Humans create plutonium waste, and potential nuclear environmental damage curses the future.
    How many centuries of life must suffer for the generation of our energy hungry species ?
    Massive power plants will be obsolete when every home and industry is free to supply its own needs with technology that already exists.

  14. Mike
    April 9, 2014

    Wow Chuck. Great place to rant.

  15. Chuck
    April 9, 2014

    The real danger is mankind’s hubris. The hubris that admits of no mistakes by man. In every task or accomplishment undertaken by mankind there is a risk that a mistake will happen. To date, nothing man has built has been mistake free: Titanic, nuclear power plants, space exploration (Apollo 13, Challenger), fracking, oil drilling, mining, bridge building, dam building, and the list goes on and on. Knowing this and the potential of despoiling the environment, not just in our lifetimes but for all man’s lives, it is critical that we not let our hubris define what is “safe.” For example the companies that want to use fracking claim that it can be done completely safely. But what if someone makes a mistake and spoils an aquifer forever and deprives mankind of a source of water forever? Who then pays the societal cost?
    When companies want to engage in commercial activities that have, as a consequence of mistake, a potential of long lasting environmental damage including injury to people, then there should be no limit on liability. Corporate officers who make the decisions should in effect be betting with their family’s life savings and assets with no corporate immunities to shield them. If you as a CEO want to be paid tens of millions of dollars for leading a corporation, then if the people you lead either through commission or omission make the wrong decision leading to an ecological disaster, you put all your assets at risk. If you really are certain that an environmental disaster can never happen then you should have no problem betting your economic wellbeing and your family’s that you are right. The same would and should be true for the corporation which should be at risk for all its assets in the event something goes wrong. This is not a negligence test. It is strict liability. If you want to do something that can cause permanent ecological damage to nature or individuals, then in the vernacular you are “betting the farm.” You and the corporation for which you are a decision maker do not get an escape clause. If in your hubris, you think the conduct you are about to engage in, such as a pipeline across the entire United States from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, will never cause an ecological damage of any significance, then you should’t have a problem risking everything you have. But it you feel that risking everything is unfair, then why should the public be put at risk to accept your representations of no risk, or adequate safety, when you yourself are not confident enough to put yourself at risk? When decision makers who decide what is safe also know that they may be putting their economic health at risk, better and more careful decisions will be made. Perhaps a decision that the risk is too great for the economic reward (profits) is and ought to be the right one before we so befoul this planet that it can no longer sustain life.
    Would the same decisions have been made by BP in the gulf if the onsite people had known that a bad decision might wipe them out financially? If BP had known that it would have unlimited and unending liability for the ecological consequences of its actions, would it have been as profit motivated to take short cuts in capping the well?
    If the powers at Chernobyl had known that they and their children would be forced to live in the exclusion zone forever, would they have then thought that using a commercial power generator for nuclear testing was a “good idea.” “It was only a small test which we thought we could do safely.”

  16. Chauntelle Ham
    April 9, 2014

    Wow. Who would have thought. This is the best real life story ever. love the pictures. How lucky with the camera straps. Really interesting, and makes me glad I live in a country that does not use nuclear power.

  17. Fil
    April 8, 2014

    @thad morgan: Now there is an interesting question. Not only is Japan in a constant need of ever more energy; many other countries are in the same situation.
    Off the hip, I’d just like to mention how there is a large source of energy in saving the same – maybe even bigger than in alternative sources!
    For the first effective move toward chanelling this properly, every country willing to conscientiously use its energy sources would do good to list and then forbid energy expenditure on useless and many times outrightly stupid products!
    I’m sure everyone can make such lists and contribute to the idea.
    Consider power appliances: which among those can be replaced by manually operated ones?
    Or production of plastic bags: one use, and then thrown away to be or not to be recycled? Great percentage of those is just another piece of future garbage.
    There are aluminum cans with a bit of sweetened liquid. What happens after? How much more expensive is an aluminum can than a carton?
    Consider a tin can of fish: a few measly pieces of fish are first packed into galvanized tin, then put into paper box, and then wrapped in cellophane. Another needless waste of energy and material!
    Consider paper diapers, one-swish dust removers, cheap good-for-nothing decorative things… Consider cosmetic products with inert gas propellants. What’s wrong with finger-pressed pumps and glass bottles?
    Or think about our customary, “traditional” holidays, and what we do with the energy on those days? “Joy”, “happiness”, “festive” “atmosphere”? Or change toward more sincere apprecations, less hypocrisy, and senseless energy burning; there would be more energy for important things!
    Electrically operated car windows? Throw-away lighters? Throw-away batteries? Our flashlights, phones, computers and many other home electronics can be Sun-powered. Then, how about the simple idea of switching off all the lights and TVs in the rooms when there is no-one in there? All it takes is a bit of self discipline and immediate application!
    Such a list can be really long, and people should want to do without brainless luxury that costs energy, both in production as well as in exploitation, not to mention recycling.
    And we can in the same time reduce our garbage output, since we all now that garbage does not just so happen – it is produced, intentionally, along with our consumables!
    Do I believe the saved energy can be put to better use then? Of course.
    Do I believe people will ever go along with such a scheme?
    Of course not.

  18. Adeeti Chandola
    April 5, 2014

    A great job Mr. Ludwig..the world will be a better place if everyone would aspire to be like you..A true altruist..Breathtaking photos..

  19. Oliver Godson
    April 5, 2014

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIaPzvKBLnw Along the same lines: abandoned buildings due to economic reasons around Britain & Belgium. Following photographers ideas of why they feel the need to capture the history of the structures within there images.

  20. Sean Mcgee
    April 4, 2014

    out of 44,000 citizens of Pipryat that fled to Kiev only 19,000 are now alive. Few made it past 40 Years of age. http://nuclear-news.net/2014/04/04/radiophobia-pipryat-chernobyl-the-return-20-years-later/

  21. scott gm
    April 3, 2014

    Kharytina Desha is remarkable. Although the community is in an exclusion zone, she ought to be commended for her pursuit to rebuild her community.

    Not only is Oleg Sapiro a real representative of true altruism, but the entire communities around Chernobyl, for Dima Bogdanovich is that representative. Nothing can replace what someone has suffered through cancer!

  22. Mike
    April 3, 2014

    Anyone interested in the returnees to the Exclusion Zone should check out “The Sky Unwashed” by Irene Zabytko. It’s a story inspired by those who didn’t have anywhere else to go afterwards, and so returned home.

  23. Marley Barduhn
    April 3, 2014

    Well done Mr. Ludwig. It appears we collectively have overlooked U.S. citizens who were in the area when Chernobyl occurred. This is an overlooked and invisible population of affected people. Has anyone done any work with them?

  24. thad morgan
    April 2, 2014

    japan doesn’t have the energy resources to meet their needs. so what would you do to meet that need?

  25. Rafaela Ramos
    April 2, 2014

    Entrevista muito bem articulada, tema atual e enriquecedor. As imagens ilustram de forma genial o momento vivido pelas pessoas e a dificuldade enfrentada pelo fotógrafo em registrá-las.

  26. dkkauwe
    April 2, 2014

    this was just phenomenal to read and absorb.

  27. robert peter gale
    April 2, 2014

    i was the lead external physician dealing with the chernobyl accident and have followed, along with many scientist and the WHO medical consequences of the accident. the social, economic and psychological consequences are enormous. and there are about 7000 cases of thyroid cancer in persons who were younger than 16 years at the time of the accident. however, there are no convincing data of an increase in thyroid cancer in person older than 16 years nor of any other type of cancer. moreover, there are no convincing data of an increase in birth defects or genetic abnormalities related to the chernobyl nuclear power facility accident. (the baseline rate of birth defects and gentric abnormalities in the US is about 10 percent of all births.). these observations are consistent with data from the A-bomb survivors. thus, the very sad photos of a retarded child and an adult with thyroid cancer are indeed sad but extraordinarily unlikely to be related to radiation released from the accident at the chernobyl nuclear power facility. more detailed information is in our book Radiation: what you need to know (Gale, RP, Lax E. Knopff 2013).

  28. roger morris
    April 2, 2014

    I fear for my grandchildren when I see devastation like this

  29. Israel Ravindranath
    April 2, 2014


    Any man-made object born out of research inherently is risk-prone and disasters cannot be ruled out. Automobiles have killed millions of people, Smoking is a health hazard. Second world-war saw the annihilation of almost the Jewish Race and there were hundreds of thousand of soldiers and civilians killed and displaced than any other man-made disasters. Spurious pharma products, have contributed to unaccounted deaths. Wars which can be traced solely to acquired immorally, controlling interests of world’s richest oil-producing nations and such wars, which have nothing to do with the poor, have seen huge collateral damage in terms of humans lives or displaced the locals who have lived for centuries. The inventor of AK47 “realised” that this ubiquitous gun has caused innumerable deaths and loss of livelihood for equal number of families around the world. Would that mean that we will one day have a world without AK47 riffles? No sir. We may have a world without you and me but not without the AK47’s and even more sophisticated weapons.

    In spite of all the credible information about the destructive power of radiation, every country keeps building nuclear arsenal, under the excuse of protecting its citizens from “aggressors”. Are these nuclear pile-up in the US or the West, in Israel, in India, China, or Korea or Japan anymore safe than the fateful reactors in Chernobyl. We are made to believe the lies and all of us can be very pontifical until we are told that we will have to cut down on our personal energy demand. With the wealth and comforts that I enjoy today and from the cozy comfort of my well-appointed home, I can be utterly hypocritical about these things and blog through the social media “how bad these things are!”.

    The Chernobyl incident is undoubtedly a great saga of human misery at its worst; So was the “Bhopal Gas Tragedy” in India, when isocyanide leaked in an Union Carbide Plant killing several thousands of people around this ill-fated factory and left several more thousands with perpetual genetic disorders and cancerous cells.

    The” holier-than-thou” attitude towards depicting, analysing, understanding, interpreting and projecting such disasters is terribly nauseating. These contrived presentations, hide more truth than they appear to reveal.

    Let’s us not be critical of things that each of us, will never want to give up “for the sack of safety and security of mankind”. Research can bring in technological marvels, that will most certainly ane eventually, turn out to be disasters at a later point in time. But research can hardly make human-beings humane and sensitive. We will never learn anything from our own mistakes because we commit them to satiate our needs that have the roots in our greed..

    The problem is not with Technology or Political leadership. We get the political leadership we deserve. It truly lies within our own collective greed, unwillingness to give up our present or future “comforts” and to live within the limits of what nature has to offer to us. So long as this doesn’t happen, Chernobyls may still happen at our own backyards – not just in Russia or China or North Korea. The photographs are no doubt good and indeed moving.

    E.Israel Ravindranath,
    Author & Consultant

  30. Roland Gorge
    April 2, 2014

    I am quite saddened by what we as humans call “progress” can do.

  31. Chris
    April 2, 2014

    “These images remind us that accidents like Chernobyl are a possible outcome of nuclear power—anytime, anywhere.” Incorrect. Chernobyl was a very poorly designed reactor: with a positive power feedback loop, a highly flammable core, and was run by people that did not understand reactor physics. Reactors are much safer these days. Which is why Fukushima, while still tragic, was far better than Chernobyl, despite an excellent emergency response from Russian authorities and a poor emergency response from Japaneses.

  32. Yui
    April 1, 2014

    Although we got a disaster by earthquake and tsunami 3.11. 2011, our government and some local administrations seem to want to re-operate nuclear plants as soon as possible.

    Currently almost all of nuclear plants in Japan are stopping.
    However the administrators of one of nuclear plants built an addition the shallow-trickery-like seawall on the original seawall, and they said “The seawall which there was Fukushima daiichi was broken, because the height of tsunami was over than the prediction. Now we fixed the pre-prediction and got new prediction of tsunami, we added the height of seawall, so the nuclear plant is safe.”
    I think they should recognize what the plant is constructed the area where is predicted as one of the most dangerous and collapse-able area due to enormous earthquake and tsunami in the future.

    Well, our country is always lack of energy.
    And actually the nuclear plant would solve the problem so easily.
    The issue is really complicated.

  33. Gary Headrick
    April 1, 2014

    Help us prevent more of the same kind of senseless, immoral destruction. We are on a long road to safely decommission the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (between Los Angeles and San Diego California), now that we got it shutdown. Thanks for caring and sharing the real dangers of nuclear power. It is a danger we should all confront on a global scale, but instead, many choose to ignore. Please sign our petition and share with others, http://www.credomobilize.com/p/can-it

  34. I Aint Avinit
    April 1, 2014

    That’s pretty scary!

  35. TedR
    April 1, 2014

    Please, I do not want to diminish in anyway the tragedy that took place here. But has the tragedy created the largest wildlife refuge in the world? See the “PBS Nature” video called “Radioactive Wolves”. Very well done.

  36. monica
    April 1, 2014

    Fellow citizens of the world – Can we challenge our leaders by asking: Is cheap nuclear energy worth THIS?

  37. Jo
    April 1, 2014

    There are few stories that have had the impact that this one has had on me. When something like this happens, and it’s so far away, we react by saying, ” What a shame. I feel so bad for those people”. And then we go about our everyday lives. Then we forget. With these pictures, and this story, there’s no way I will forget. We can’t begin to comprehend the impact it has had on the people that live there. What would I do? Where would I go? How would I feel? I can’t imagine. Thank you Ludwig for taking the risks you did, and still are, by returning, to make sure this tragedy, or these people, are never forgotten. For me personally, it’s a piece of history etched into my soul.

  38. seema
    April 1, 2014

    these pics clearly depicts that nuclear energy is so dangerous that it can covert a whole city into ghost city, yet governments are trying to push nuclear energy ahead without a care for the citizens

  39. Sophia Julianne Hainline
    March 31, 2014

    Homo sapiens are the only species that systematically destroy their own environment

  40. Matt
    March 31, 2014

    I spent four days at Pripyat. What an amazing experience. Here is a link ot my photos.

  41. Frank
    March 31, 2014

    Just a few more facts to throw in the mix. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora's_Promise

  42. Erlene Pool
    March 31, 2014

    hen things are so far away and time has past, we forget of disaster and the painful losses people have suffered. It is good to be reminded to give and be glad for each of our precious days on Earth.

  43. Linda T.
    March 31, 2014

    I am an elementary school science teacher. I teacher the Periodic Table. When we begin the radioactive elements, kids always want to know what happens to you when you are over exposed. Your information and pictures are great to help my students learn about the dangers. Movies such as “The Day After” and your comments and pictures have added more understanding about nuclear and radioactive materials. We used to visit the Seabrooke Nuclear Power Plant in NH, but since 9/11, visitors are no longer allowed. So the only way students can get dependable information and pictures is through people like you. Keep up the good work. On your next visit to the site, can you show before and after pictures from 10 years ago, to 20 years past the incident, to the current time that you visit. Can you see changes? Or are there no changes since the accident? Thank you for your time and “risk”.

  44. A.Bellemare
    March 31, 2014

    How come the soil of Hiroshima didn’t stay radioactive after the atomic bomb as in Chernobyl?

    • Ian
      March 31, 2014

      Because, when the radioactive cloud was over Belarus it rained and the particals were soaked into the soil. Over the rest of the world it dissipated as it traveled.

  45. Ian Wotherspoon
    March 31, 2014

    That was an amazing article with pictures of a time in history that we all wished never happened. Thank you Gerd Ludwig for the countless years of reporting stories like the Chernobyl disaster from ever happening again. As we learned why this disaster happened in the first place (human error) in the end it was the terrible loss of life as well as the on going repercussions since the meltdown that we sometimes forget. In actual fact I can’t even guess at how many children were and still are affected by this disaster but with the photographs that Ludwig has shared with us we get a glimps that the children are still suffering today in 2014 for an accident that happened close to 28 years ago. We MUST do everything possible to NEVER allow this to happen again. Again, I want to thank Gerd Ludwig for bringing this story to us.

  46. Suzan
    March 31, 2014

    Thank you so much for this powerful story and for your commitment and bravery to tell the world about this horrific tragedy and the aftemath. It is heart breaking to see how much this society throws away the disabled and the poisoned rather than make what they have of a life easier and somewhat happier. This is a reminder of the horrors this type of energy brings and is unstoppable once something goes wrong. Wthout your bravery and dedication to your profession we would not know anything about the affects and the aftermath. Thank you.

  47. javier angeles
    March 31, 2014

    chernovil es un ejemplo de cuando personas mal preparadas hacen trabajos de alta peligrosidad.

  48. Chris K
    March 31, 2014

    Thank you for this touching remembrance of the terrible past there, the difficult present, and the sterile future for 24,000 years. It’s a staggering realization but unlikely to change the minds of those motivated by greed to profit from similar ventures.

  49. Ian
    March 31, 2014

    My wife leaves tomorrow Apr 2nd 2014, for Chausey. She is going on a humaniterian aid trip for the Children of Chernobyl. They look after the forgotten children in the orphanages. We are even able to bring some of them over to Canada in the summertime. These pictures are telling a real story. Thank you for your work.

  50. Ingrid
    March 31, 2014

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case there are just not enough words to describe this catastrophe – so thank you for your photos! Thank you to the brave people who allowed their photos to be taken. I am also so very thankful that the powers that be made the right decision to retire the San Onofre reactors in San Clemente, California. I still remember going to the NO NUKES concert at the Rose Bowl where Jackson Brown and folks tried to raise awareness that this type of energy was not the solution. Let’s stay on track with Solar and Wind power. But most of all – I hope people realize that each individual should do their best to be as energy conscious as possible.

  51. Christian
    March 31, 2014

    Ik weet dat er ieder jaar kinderen van Kinderen van Tsjernobyl kwamen bij ons hier in Belgie op vacantie door kwamen en bij particuleren voor een paar weken hun vacantie door brachten

  52. Whocares
    March 31, 2014

    Math would trump the assertions made here. Proof – is what you seek –

  53. Lingaraju D S
    March 31, 2014

    As we earn good things the bad will follow. But when the bad is more damaging like this we should reject that.

  54. Fil
    March 31, 2014

    To Lisa and everyone who did not catch the point in DocAnchovy’s comment:
    There are too many problems of equal or greater importance regarding the population, energy and survival questions. So it really was not relevant with this here story, whatever side anyone decides to take.
    As to the abortus-on-demand (or any world-wide problem like that), whatever stops anyone to do a similar, high-quality reportage / presentation about it? Then it will be appropriate to comment that case. Would it be okay for me to comment, “oh, Chernobyl catastrophy is terrible, but junk food, chemical additives and GMOs kill us just as effectively…”? Of course not, however true!
    There is a freedom of opinion and speech, of course, but there is also the wisdom in “better to be silent than to say nothing.”

  55. Marianne
    March 31, 2014

    In Hungary we had to go to the 1st May parade in 1986, although the wind from the east had carried all the radioactive dust from Chernobyl to us by then. We noticed the fine dust everywhere but didn`t know where it came from, didn`t know what happened. Our communist government did, but they covered up for the Soviet Union. I`ll never forget nor forgive how they risked the health and lives of their own people. I`m very glad that a brave photographer and his shocking photos show us what Chernobyl means even after almost 30 years. Thank you, in the name of everyone who`s been affected in any ways all these years.

  56. Lingaraju D S
    March 31, 2014

    This a vivid face of our civilization. The good we earn the bad is following us. Right time for introspection.

  57. Patti Ann
    March 31, 2014

    It has taken about 6 billion years for this good earth to evolve into the beautiful place we all call home. Mankind (in his march through evolution) has been allowed to live here about 2 million years until we finally have evolved into our present-day form of sophisticated intelligence. We are now in the fearful position of being clever enough to annihilate all of humanity. We have become “too smart for our on good”.

  58. Donna Tanner
    March 31, 2014

    Very eerie to see actual control room at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant where this catastrophe began. I was 35 years old and I remember it well. Amazing article, thank you.

  59. Rainbowfish
    March 31, 2014

    I am really admiring your professionalism.

  60. Sabrina Wong
    March 31, 2014

    Gerd Ludwig, thank you for your sensitive and loving depictions of how
    life still goes on in the ghost towns,
    the countryside, the hospitals and the orphanages.

  61. LGC
    March 31, 2014

    Kudos to you for your willingness to risk your own health and wellness to expose the dangers we humans have built for ourselves! Due to some information in comments, we see how the Russian government certainly laid the framework for such a disaster in their willingness to ignore safety when constructing this plant. And, as others have mentioned, but the news media is keeping under wraps, the Japanese disaster threatens the life of the Pacific Ocean as contamination keeps leaching into the water. Maps of this are overwhelmingly scary, but the common person is, as yet, unaware. All us “hippie” protesters in the ’60’s and ’70’s weren’t quite as crazy as you might have thought, huh? I was a peripheral participant in protests that prevented a plant from being built next to the University I attended. I am proud of that little bit of “success,” and do my best to decrease my own carbon footprint as much as possible. Thank you again!!

  62. Rob
    March 31, 2014

    Such an interesting and important topic. Is there anywhere you can find out the real facts and figures. As mentioned even the Doctors are asked to change the figures!

  63. Antunes
    March 31, 2014

    As an amateur potographer, I envy you and your will to photograph in such dangerous place as Chernobyl is, I just hope your story and photo work, drives more responsability to those who are responsibible for today’s nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is the future, but this is an example of what cannot be done. Your photos give me goosebumps. Cheers!

  64. Dr. Ashwini Rao
    March 31, 2014

    This is so horrifying. The suffering looks endless and nothing can be done about it. We are still building more and more nuclear plants especially in areas which are in seismic zones or tsunami prone regions. In spite of seeing all this, the powers to be are unperturbed. Hope God gives us the strength to face these man made catastrophes. Wonder how our future is!!

  65. Maureen, Ghana
    March 31, 2014

    Very stunning pictures. I have been having flashes of the first pictures of the incident and ask if mankind is really taking a lesson from this. I have also been following the later stories about the the life after the events.
    For the old woman leaving so long, and the lushy grass etc. this is nature for you.

  66. Gerard
    March 31, 2014

    The photos are touching particularly of Igor. I admire the photographer, Gerd Ludwig, for his determination to bring out the sad truth about Chernobyl…

  67. abdelmajid lamsallak
    March 31, 2014

    c est tres saluant d eterneliser la catastrophe..juste pour ne pas oublier…pour ne pas recommencer…pour penser au resultats de toute action mal gerer…mais il faut reagir pour que une telle folie ne se reproduira jamais

  68. Zaeem
    March 31, 2014

    Great work,in hazardous condition.Opens our eyes to all proliferation from nuclear energy with weak controls or natures course notwithstanding.Thanks for the great shots and courage shown in your efforts.Keep us informed,thanks again.

  69. Leslie Dunstan
    March 31, 2014

    Shocking to see after the event. Lets hope that the WORLD will learn from this. No more atomic warfair. Once someone starts it there will be no going back on it.The WORLD would probably die off completely. Lets keep praying that it never happens.

  70. alec templeton
    March 31, 2014

    I thank Gerd from the bottom of my heart for his more than courageous service to our collective memory. What this brought home to me: The monstrous man-made-ness of this disaster and our madness in continuing this kind of violence against nature forcing her to give ever more energy. It makes one wonder if this was only a “disaster”, which suggests it was beyond our control, because the word “disaster” suggests this was meant to happen all along, that it was in the “unkind astrae” i.e stars; or have we only ourselves to blame, and not the stars, that we humans brought this horrible unquenchable fire upon ourselves alone??

  71. Hans Glanzmann
    March 31, 2014

    This could be pictures of the Capital of Switzerland, Bern, where an old Nuclear Powerplant sits below the barrage and its huge water reservoir. After Cernobil, the responsible governement agency said this could also happen in Berne, nobody is listening. The Berne powerplant is going full plast and setting Switzerland at the risk of desapearing from this planet. Hans Glanzmann

  72. Judy
    March 31, 2014

    I forgot to check the boxes below, but I would love to continue this conversation. Thanks GERD LUDWIG for your courageous soul, and eloquent photography, and narrative. Blessings

  73. Judy
    March 31, 2014

    Some of the comments say; I don’t think we will learn much from history with these photographs, but they are great photography. How sad. They are more than just beautiful, poignant, courageous, and very informative photography. Not just pretty photos. They cannot even be labeled that. Each one of these photos is worth a thousand words. Open your mind, understand what this corageous photographer has given us, while exposing himself to danger. If you don’t think there is much to learn from them, then you apparently have a soul that has closed it’s God giving emphathy and righteous indignation. We as a planet should rid it of these nuclear plants just waiting to devestate another area of this beautiful blue planet, and more will be ravaged by the dangers, killed, scarred, broken, isolated, and more. Evil reigns when good men/women do nothing. There should be a cry of NO MORE DEVASTATION, and do what we can to contain what is already done and can’t be undone. God please, help us all!!!
    Lead On Lord!!!

  74. Georgina
    March 31, 2014

    There are more Chernobyl places world over.Just locate soviet influence and lo and behold you will locate.The latest is the Sochi Village…..This is typical of the Russian-Soviet system.

  75. Marcel Langerman
    March 31, 2014

    I have not ever been “up close and personal” with the Chernobyl story. It was one of those remote occurrences in a remote place. Both your story and your pictures are moving and necessary. Lest we ever forget the suffering created by incompetence, the ineffective aftercare by bureaucracy, the sweeping under the carpet by an uncaring regime.

    Particularly poignant is the story of young Igor, in such desperate need of a loving touch. Proving that there is a real person with real needs in that broken shell of a body.

    Please continue documenting this sad saga, because it does reach people and that may just move people sufficiently to do something tangible for the Igor’s of Belarus and everywhere else where the victims are left to fend for themselves…

  76. mohan
    March 31, 2014

    man never learns anything from disasters and keeps committing mistakes again.india pakistan isreal iran the list of nations running for nuclear capability is endless. ludwigs is an eye opener.

  77. Varada Pundale
    March 31, 2014

    It is very sad to know that such a serious hazard has been caused due to some operators not following the standard operating procedures…the effects were not just momentry but for many many more years to come. The pictures, ur experience were heart touching. Living in luxury here we do not undertsand what our people go through at the other end. It is really really sad to see that small children’s life is destroyed even before it began. I would surely wait for your next update to know more. It just makes me feel how humble i must be in life for whatever God has given me. Thanks Gerd!

  78. Roelf
    March 31, 2014

    Stunning.. have to visit one day.. already had it on the list for this year.. but with the tensions now in Ukraine better to wait

  79. Canta
    March 31, 2014

    Heart-wrenching images of Chernobyl. My heart goes out to little Igor. Gerd Ludwig – I salute the way you have covered the story and clicked the pictures. One needs to be really brave to capture this and walk away from the scenes which could haunt forever.

  80. Mary Anne
    March 31, 2014

    The Chernobyl piece is very,very illuminating of not only what’s been going on there; but also a peek into current events in the Ukraine! To wit: Galia’s comments/response to Gerd Ludwig’s work. Amazing is an over-worked word but I think it suits this article. Most of the media does not tell us that Chernobyl IS IN UKRAINE! egad! Love Sunday Stills!! 75 and still learning!

  81. Rusty Vine
    March 31, 2014

    Did mankind learn anything from this. Somehow I doubt it.

  82. Kalle
    March 31, 2014

    Great work! But let’s not forget the one other large disaster that was covered up. The Kyshtym disaster. Wo knows how it affected the very life’s of everyone since before Chernobyl. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyshtym_disaster

  83. Regula
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for this very sensitive account of your visits back to Chernobyl and the very beautiful and intense photographs.

    I wonder – how did the woman live so long without getting sick? And – are plants not affected by radiation that the vegetation is so luscious?

    March 30, 2014

    Throughout history we have had great photographers to preserve history so that the rest of us can see and learn. Examples are slavery, civil war, World War 1 & 2, Korea, Vietnam and the Civil Right area. Really good/ great photographers has a way of taking great tragedies and creating amazing photography, as are these pictures of Chernobyl. I don’t expect that we will learn much from the pictures but they will go into the archives of history as great photography; and we will wait for the next.

  85. galia
    March 30, 2014

    And everybody forget that Chernobyl is an island in the middle of Ukraine .Forget that if there start any military actions Ukraine has few more same not protected Nuclear Power Generation Station.Russia left Ukraine for period after disaster ,was waiting looking how we survive ,how many of us died ,how our children will look like .That is a real shame .We did not get any compensation for this only life time health complication.This is shame a real shame for taking Crimea,place people of Ukraine were using for vacation to run away from radioactive area .I can’t put this in my head Mr.Putin.Don’t You forget about Chernobyl ? Can’t You found for Your army other place than Ukraine Crimea,were people went to breath fresh air ,not fuel from army.From the side looking I am experiencing shame.

  86. mohdjusoh
    March 30, 2014

    kesan nukelear amat menyakitkan olih itu cubalah fikirkan bersama akibatnya.

  87. Kenneth Willis
    March 30, 2014

    I worked in a Nuclear power plant near my home in Illinois and it scared me every day i worked there. Radioactive leaks everywhere and unsafe areas to work in. Long hours of forced overtime. I still have contamination in my lungs from 27 years ago. Doctors say I have tumors in my thyroid glands. My 32 year old daughter had thyroid cancer and I have had several friends in the area who have died of thyroid and other cancers who have worked in the Nuclear industry. This story just reminded of the nightmares i still have about working at the Nuclear plant I did for 10 years.

  88. g zarek
    March 30, 2014

    Your personal story gave you passion for this mission passed to you from another human who lived in consequences of tragedy on a major scale. I find this most interesting that your niche in life has unfolded through stories not unlike the ones you are hearing now.

  89. Johannes Meijer
    March 30, 2014

    What concerns me is the fact that after the Japan nuclear disaster that country is still considering not only starting up the old power plant but building new ones. Why are we not concentrating on the Japanese Government to convince them this is not a good idea. Otherwise let the Japanese citizens know that its also up to them to let their government know there citizen don’t want another power station built powered by anything other than a Nuclear Power Plant. Power is with the people.

  90. LaUrence
    March 30, 2014

    It is so terribly unfair that the victims must carry the results of man’s failures in such lonely dejection. My soul cries for the children.

  91. Toby Glanville
    March 30, 2014

    A permanent tragedy. I wish the world community did more to help those poor children. Donate or volunteer if you can:


    A little can go a long way. 🙂

  92. Gordon Kao
    March 30, 2014

    Horrifying sight,
    Stunning photo.

  93. LYNDA
    March 30, 2014

    One of the reasons we need to continue to pray for Gods Kingdom to come so that he can fulfill his purpose. Soon there will be no more suffering, as he will soon put an end to all suffering, and mankind has the hope of living on a paradise earth as God originally purposed.

  94. rachel
    March 30, 2014

    moving, disturbing, unforgivable,and i of course agree with soo much context of the people who’ve made comments…history repeats itself through out time…pls..pls..whoEVER is listening..chernobyl is not done yet like earthquake tsunami ridden japan, the devasted phillipines, haiti, and hurricaine katrina ….WAKE UP…once the news craze ends so does the awareness…most heartbreaking is the fact then funding stops, work stops and those affected are once again left to deal with the aftermath..it is up to us..to all humans living the comfortable life away from it all to keep reminding the governments, ourselves, and our children that each time we move on to the next “story”…might just be our demise….god, seriously, this planet has so very much beauty-including that of humankind….lets not forget this ..and lets make sure each and every tragedy becoming a “left behind” event from the past is not let go..not let down..and never given up on until putting things right again is done…there are more than enough people in this world to make this a probablity and not just speculation of what could be…we should all be making a commitment to this beautiful planet…that which we are so blessed to live in…that no matter what the horror…we can perservere and bring back all the beauty and beautiful humans and animals to their once loved homes…many….the only true devotion they have ever had!!!…never, never forget to keep going back because as we do so…it propels us to actually move forward and leave a beautiful legacy for all…

  95. Bruce L
    March 30, 2014

    Very moving. Excellent photos and the brief story tells the tragedy very well.
    This is the first time I have ever comment on the internet I was emotionally moved .
    Well done

  96. Eliot Johnson
    March 30, 2014

    I worked at Chernobyl and lived in Slavutich from 1999 to 2000. I was an engineer and coordinated repairs on the old shelter and the designs for the replacement shelter. I have suited up and have been inside of the shelter. My wife worked at Chernobyl from 1988 to 1992. Upon leaving Chernobyl, I was given a complete DVD documenting the Chernobyl accident.

  97. pat
    March 30, 2014

    This event is something we cannot just feel badly about. It could happen again at any time. How many times will it take to “kill” our beautiful EARTH.

  98. Bob
    March 30, 2014

    The consequences of nuclear accidents is horrific, yet the most recent issue of NG also discusses the bad effects of our reliance on coal. Is there a solution? Perhaps our efforts should be more concentrated on the development of wind and solar power before we totally poison our planet beyond all hope of recovery.

  99. Ramjitti Indaraprasirt
    March 30, 2014

    When human are involved there will always be chances of human errors. The nature of human is greed and want so one can not put all the blame on the people working in the plant. Situations just happens. Accept it and move on.

  100. Sondra
    March 30, 2014

    It takes bravery and courage to go into Chernobyl and photograph the devastation to our beautiful country and innocent people. Thank you for sharing your pictures with the world. May we never suffer this kind of utter destruction ever again.

  101. Dave Behrmann
    March 30, 2014

    The photos, while interesting, would carry very little impact while daily photos of Detriot I think are much more telling.

  102. Je
    March 30, 2014

    One of the worse tragedy in modern history. One we must never forget but never again repeat.

  103. Barbara Efraimson
    March 30, 2014

    This is my 2nd time seeing some of this. I saw coverage of the area about 3-6 months ago on PBS-very surprising and sadly moving to me.

  104. Chuck
    March 30, 2014

    DocAnchovy should not be setting himself up as a judge of what is “mean-sprited”, doesn’t know the meaning of the term…it is truly mean spirited to think that killing millions of helpless unborn is “ok”.

    The great sadness I have about Chernobyl is that with just a modicum of care the plant could have been designed to prevent the whole unseemly event. First, the reactor could have been built with a containment vessel…USSR was just too cheap to do that. Second, it was built using an inherently unstable design (also cheap). Third, the people doing the testing knew all of this, but deemed the defeating of several safety features to be “excusable” to accomplish the test…so they set up the “perfect storm” of conditions that led to the disaster. To suggest that this could happen at any reactor at any time is just wrong. Having said this, there is a great need for photographers to publish works like this so that we can see just how terrible the dangers are, so that lessons learned are not forgotten…but, let’s be sure we really learn the right lessons. Generalizations to all reactors regardless of design, or proper safety procedures are a waste. It is quite instructive to compare this event to “Three Mile Island”. No one died, or even got cancer from that. Check if you don’t believe me.

  105. Alan
    March 30, 2014

    Kharytina, 92, is the sole human presence in this collection of images. She presents the essential essence of simple humanity. This is my place upon this earth. I understand what has happened. I choose to be here. I choose to live on this ground from which I have been born regardless of others mistakes or incomprehensible unseen dangers. It is my bargain with life as well as my solace.

  106. Ronel Ellis
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you Gerd Ludwig, we should never forget. Just because the media has moved on does not mean the struggle is over. Every one of those workers who go in for 15 minute shifts per day, risking their lives to make it safer for others, are amazing human beings and should be hailed as heroes. Well done on keeping the an eye on this forgotten part of the world.

  107. Deb
    March 30, 2014

    These photographs are a necessary part of history. Without photos peoples awareness of disasters such as this would dim and again we would become lax. I admire Gerd Ludwig for doing the world this service. Thank you!

  108. Patricia Douglas
    March 30, 2014

    And so we go on, how much has changed? How many nuclear plants have closed down knowing the same could happen at any time. Unfortunately, we as human beings, especially those of us blessed to live in western civilization; hear,learn and are emotionally torn by the sight of a child forever marked inside and out in the name of advancement in science. Perhaps God is trying to tell us that we are not using the gifts found on earth for the benefit of all human beings. Will it take a world wide disaster before all open their eyes and truly see what we are doing or allowing to happen. Sadly, it will be the end of time as we know it. There will be no one to fight for the next generations right to breathe clean air, to be able to run through the grass and look up at the wonders of the universe. Our gift to this earth may not be a gift at all rather an evil like never known before. And all for the sake of every country wanting to be first, first in everything. No time to be certain what they do is safe. Safe not just for today but for tomorrow and for the generations yet to be born. We must destroy the selfishness prevailing on this planet and open our eyes to what we have done in a very short amount of time to a planet that once was pure and clean. I already find myself mourning the great-grandchildren I will never know. Is it already too late? We owe it to the generation that is here now, suffering in pain and lives that will never be normal but also to those generations yet to be. Each generation has always said “we want to leave the world a better place for the next generation”. It has yet to happen. War after war. More and more devices of destruction both intended and otherwise. Many years ago while listening to a musical group I used to enjoy, the words I heard that stayed with me and unfortunately no answer has yet to be found. ” Oh, When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn….”

  109. Philip Henderson
    March 30, 2014

    Remember that this was an entirely man-made disaster. The human element is what caused this melt down. Tens of thousands of people have had their lives damaged by this human error. The error was to construct a nuclear power plant in the first place. The potential for error is low but the cost is high as we see here and in Japan. Time to stop this madness.

  110. John
    March 30, 2014

    As sad as that disaster was, I think if you took pictures of any area 26 years after being abandoned, it would look like that, even without the radiation.

  111. Jessica
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you Gerd Ludwig. May you be given continuous supply of energy, of compassion, of love in support of your work. May your work find a place in many hearts for their own reflection and transformation.

  112. p. djerdj
    March 30, 2014


  113. Mel and Alijana
    March 30, 2014

    Well we certainly learned something this morning. Laying in bed with my 9 yr old daughter flicking through emails, your story of Chernobyl came to us. We have both learned something. To me Chernobyl was a big disaster that I knew nothing about really. Now we do. Thank you for your bravery and your wisdom and your truth.

  114. karen
    March 30, 2014

    Thanks for taking the time to do stories on people that are out of
    Sight and history I never knew exists living in Jamaica.

  115. Lloyd
    March 30, 2014

    A very courageous man to bring such important past disasters to the world attention..congratulations in doing so….what a tragedy with such terrible human consequences !

  116. Aron Kocsardi
    March 30, 2014

    Beautiful photos of such a catastrophic event. I admire the ladies determination to live on her own soil.

  117. Roseline Horvath
    March 30, 2014

    love the way you tell the story easy to ouder stand also the pic.

  118. JC
    March 30, 2014

    Truly admirable photographer, chilling article and pictures. What a mess we have created. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

    On a side note, I’m all for free-speech and everyone has the right to be heard, but seriously Lisa – do us all a favour and stay on the subject at hand, or don’t bother commenting here at all. There’s a time and place for everything – find a relevant website to post your anti-abortion comments on.

  119. NotAnchovy
    March 30, 2014

    DocAnchovy- about your response about Lisa:to you it may be irrelevant but if you read along the lines she deeply considers this disaster just as horrible as abortion. Stop acting smart and attacking moral values of a faith it is likely you don’t believe in .

  120. Charles young
    March 30, 2014

    Time has allowed Chernobyl to assume “out of sight, out of mind” status. Thank you for rekindling awareness. And Chernobyl was peaceful use … One can’t imagine a nuclear war!

  121. Johanna
    March 30, 2014

    I am speechless, my stomach tied in knots, my mouth dry & incapable of uttering a sensible thought.
    Your stunning work & its bone chilling effect brings tears to my eyes.
    How is it the IAEA has not pushed for a final solution of protection for surrounding territories?
    What does it take to make mankind understand that Nuclear is not the answer to any problem that exist…it is the problem & always has been since Hiroshima. Its not the last line of defense, its the last spoken word as we watch those still developing this Nuclear energy, destroy our planet in the name of progress & security.
    Everyone should see this remarkable coverage by Gerd Ludwig…perhaps seeing would finally be believing.
    Many thanks for your bravery Gerd.

  122. Anna Zach
    March 30, 2014

    This is an old story. We need to be informed about FUKUSHIMA!!!!! Much worse disaster. We need the facts! We need to know the truth!

  123. Len
    March 30, 2014

    Lisa-really creepy that you posted that.

  124. Lance Wakely
    March 30, 2014

    Chernobyl was a disaster but not as the article says the worlds worst nuclear one. That honor now belongs to TEPKO at Fukushima Daiichi Japan where 3 reactors exploded and completely melted down, It is still a danger to the whole world and most likely will destroy the Pacific ocean if it has not already done so due to the ongoing leaking of highly radioactive water entering the Pacific ocean daily. Now they are trying to remove thousands of damaged highly radioactive control rods from one of the reactors. One mistake and kablooie. End of story, end of Japan Unfortunately the accident is so severe that it is being deliberately kept out of the mainstream news for fear of the public relations damage that it would cause the nuclear industry not to mention the thousands of cancer victims that will incur both in Japan and across the Pacific in North America and eventually the entire world.

  125. Matt
    March 30, 2014

    Nice. I am a Ph.D. student studying the risk analysis of important buildings. This accident gives us an important lesson. Nice photos.

  126. Ligia Gonzalez Meringer
    March 30, 2014

    I come from Argentina.. far from these places.. but I consider this report very interesting and the real importance for all the people.
    Thanks a lot for you committed work!!
    The world needs this kind of people!

  127. Ruben
    March 30, 2014

    Excelent report.Congratulations and thank you for keeping us aware of the dangers of nuclear enegy.

  128. Manu Pene
    March 30, 2014

    Chilling,sad and testament to the utter srupidity of man. Also huge admiration for the people of Chernobyl who have returned to live and die in their homeland. May they be taken under the protection and love of the Almighty. How selfishly arrogant and greedy are many of us humans who think they are acting to benefit mankind when they know full well the dangers this type of action to build nuclear facilities pose for mankind

  129. Michele
    March 30, 2014

    Powerful images and reporting. It is truly amazing to me that any of our world leaders would still consider nuclear energy a safe option.

  130. Stephen Swiftfox
    March 30, 2014

    The people and culture of Russia has always been close to my heart. I grew up in Hollywood California but Russian was my first language. I love the people and culture and am so sorry that this has happened. Thank you for the photo project. I want to know more about it and Kickstarter. Thanks.

  131. Marcia
    March 30, 2014

    Lisa- Not only do I agree with DocAnchovy, I feel any person should be thinking and taking into account the cost of overpopulation and increasing poverty needs to prune the population of humans on this planet from one end or the other. with no world wars and uncontrolled population increase the only solution would be death for everyone at about age 45 or maybe 35. The world can only support so many people as it is the environment is in serious trouble caused by to many people. I think that one child per couple is a good idea but this would take a few generations for relief to happen. The twentieth century had world wars but not enough of them I wonder what the twenty-first will bring?

  132. Marlys
    March 30, 2014

    How can we, with the evidence staring us in the face, continue to build nuclear reactors? Mr. Ludwig had given us an ongoing picture of what could happen, no matter how safe they say it is! Human error did this. What well be the outcome for Japan when there was nothing humans could do to prevent or stop the damage? The waters of the world go everywhere! Seems we are at an extreme choice point! Will we take heed or continue down the merry path of our self- destruction?

  133. Brenda
    March 30, 2014

    Your photos are stunning. I recently met a young boy whose mother was a child there when the disaster happened. He is severely physically deformed and mentally disabled yet has a heart of gold. I don’t think I have ever been around such unbridled, unconditional love. I walked away from that time with him feeling blessed and grateful that his mother kept him and brought him to America.

  134. ellen hofford
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you, Gerd Ludwig, for being willing to capture snapshots of the truth of Chernobyl and its environs…for telling the story that you have seen and heard on your visits. My husband Jim and I went to Ivankiv in 1997 to interview families for sponsorship by Americans. We saw that the cemetery had tripled in size from what it was for the thousand years up to 1986. We met with those just outside the 30 km ring around the death zone as they suffered the effects. Inside we saw Prypyat…the balconies where children and babushkas watched the burning reactor. The sarcophagus around the ruined plant was badly cracked and trees were red dead. We were a kilometer away. Later we were taken through the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev…seeing what the firemen wore… and the wall of school pictures of the children who had died. Walking up the stairs to that second floor room, we viewed the names of each village on signs overhead…crossed out in red….all gone… Your message must be told and shown! Bless you for sharing!

  135. eva
    March 30, 2014

    it is so sad that’s why I support nuclear free here in nz it is so dangerous and kills thousands and then destroys the earth for all creatures thank you so much for sharing I certainly will read your book when its out nd for your courage and all the poor children suffering in those places I too felt a heavy heart

  136. Linda Hryckowian
    March 30, 2014

    The devastation is beyond comprehension. this is one of the world’s worst disasters. we will live with it for centuries. Thanks for the report.

  137. Andrea
    March 30, 2014

    Incredible pictures – very moving. When the disaster happened, I was living in Galway and did a project on it. The images I saw in a magazine that year have haunted me to this day. To know that people are still suffering daily from the effects of the meltdown is heartbreaking. Great work telling such an important story.

  138. Kary
    March 30, 2014

    Love your work and courage. We must keep this disaster present and prevent the world from a similar catastrophe.
    May the Lord be with you.

  139. j. cummings
    March 30, 2014

    You are so brave to bring this story to us — to risk your comfort and health in order to tell a story that must be remembered !

  140. Martha
    March 30, 2014

    When and where will this book be available? I have followed the stories of Chernboyl from the beginning- and will continue to follow- glad someone is writing this part of history! It is so important!

  141. Daniella
    March 30, 2014

    In this Matrix we are the cancerous virus of this living gorgeous planet. We extinguish ourselves as we consume our mother. Ultimate human tragedy is our unconscious March of destruction. And yet we are also awake and kicking against this with artists, scientists, and extra-ordinary people fending off what more and more seems inevitable. Be the change…

  142. Tom Devine
    March 30, 2014

    After seeing these pictures I am looking at my support of “safe” nuclear energy” and perhaps re-thinking my position. I still support development of “safe” energy sources yet, there is nothing that can be positively made safe. Individuals and governments will continue to develop energy sources that will have a risk factor. To stick our head in the sand and pretend that what we make will be used for only peaceful purposes is not realistic. Accidents will happen, we need to anticipate those accidents and have a plan in place when those accidents do happen.

  143. Madeline Keever
    March 30, 2014

    I pray for the world my 4 grandchildren will live in.

  144. hector Delgadillo
    March 30, 2014

    Awsome Pictures. I give you Gerd umeasurable credit for your work. To risk your own life to do this tells me you are an extraordinary individual who should be highly commented for your work. Keep up the good work. I am looking forward to your next segment.

  145. Jane
    March 30, 2014

    This is something that should always be remembered. Thank you.

  146. Jerald
    March 30, 2014

    WOW! This story draw-ed me in. I love all the photo’s and how you created the story-line with them. You are a person that I would love to work with and learn about the ways you tell your stories. I also love to take photo’s like that and nature. Great story and my God help the people of Russia that had to go through A disaster like that.

  147. gerald
    March 30, 2014

    its an open eye for everyone regardless of nationality or religion,people live not by himself we are responsible to one another.every day lets give even a single minute to pray for our mother earth to avoid all catastrophe that comes, thank you Gard Ludwig god bless u.

  148. Ravindra Rahulkar
    March 30, 2014

    Breathtaking experience of this accident….great story with great images.

  149. Winnie
    March 30, 2014

    Your photographs and article touched the core of my being. I came across the feature by accident but something made me read it. It brought back all the suffering caused by the explosion, something we should never forget. But, Gerd, take care of yourself too.

  150. Les Borean
    March 30, 2014

    DocAnchovy: Agreed!

    Author: Regarding the photo of the control room, I expanded it to full-screen on my 24″ monitor, and it looks very much like the indicator bezels are lit up. How can this be?

  151. Akrus Acras
    March 30, 2014

    The human species is so damned because think it is superior than Mother Nature.The human species have no talent to understand which answers has Mother Nature to each question, on the contrary – we wouldn’t still watch this sad pictures. What nuclear power plants give us? Comfort? Or a permanent fear? Civilization achievements are technical progress, but not progress in human mind.

  152. Jon Wilcox
    March 30, 2014

    Excellent, imperative and courageous photography

  153. Terri Wyatt
    March 30, 2014

    Heartbreaking photos, fabulous photos. They truly depict the aura of Chernobyl.

  154. Harryet
    March 30, 2014

    The tragedy at Chenrnobyl is a constant reminder that mankind must be ever conscious of the technology we create.

  155. Carolanne Stoner
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your photos of the Chernobyl event with all of us. There are Bible verses in Revelation 8: 10 & 11 that I believe may refer to this terrible happening. “10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters. 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood, and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men (mankind) died of the waters, because they were made bitter.” You may ask what has this got to do with Chernobyl; there was a program on cable TV recently about Chernobyl that stated the word Chernobyl means “Wormwood”. Let us pray that this is the final and only instance that this happens; that the world has learned it’s lesson not to any longer play carelessly with nuclear energy!!

  156. Eddie Mendoza
    March 30, 2014

    Your excellent photos speak for themselves. You are a great messenger to the world. Thank you.

  157. Bill
    March 30, 2014

    Frightening and tragic to say the least.DocAnchovy I hope no one smells the radiation disaster. Please allow Lisa to say what is in her heart. Why comment on something you obviously disagree with. Who cares?

  158. Crip96
    March 30, 2014

    Sadly, DocAnchovy smacked a solid nail. And you want to run our schools?

  159. Mishelle
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for your devotion. This is truly an exceptional calling. I have always admired the tenacity of some to expose their lives to illuminate the truth and reality of the product of our actions. I served in the US Navy and have seen the best of us dwindle to nothing when witnessing injustice and I applaud their human connection. May all your efforts of valor and heroism go noticed by the world. Thank you again. Mishelle.

  160. M Sarkar
    March 30, 2014

    Thanks to National Geographic and to Gerd Ludwig for the images and the stories. For anyone interested in photographic stories on Chernobyl and Pripyat, I’d recommend the photos by +Eugene Madatov on Google+, especially those published by him in 2013.

  161. Fred
    March 30, 2014

    Lisa, I think you comment was beautiful and appropriate. Not sure what DocAnchovy’s problem is.

  162. Brad
    March 30, 2014

    Doc- Wow, now who is being mean spirited? Yes , Lisa’s comment may not have been relevant; but now neither was yours or mine. Both are tragedies, and trying to belittle others just proves that you need to grow up some too.

  163. Marc
    March 30, 2014

    A very good article and interview. The time lapse coverage is very enlightening, to a man made disaster. A disaster that effects the world, not only the immediate surroundings. Keep them coming, excellent coverage!

  164. Albert
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you MoreDecaybytheDay for supplying that link to augment this story. How easy we forget to consider the entire chain of events and the far reaching consequences, that are not immediately obvious.

  165. Donna
    March 30, 2014

    Amazing to find beauty in something so disastrous. We must always try. Otherwise we lose hope in all humanity.

  166. Dave Oster
    March 30, 2014

    Incredible and important work Ludwig. Thank-you. I do, however, cringe when I see the automatic backlash to radiation without which we would not survive. The Chernobyl reactor is very old technology that operated under Cold War Incredible and important work Ludwig. Thank-you. I do, however, cringe when I see the automatic backlash to radiation without which we would not survive. The Chernobyl reactor is very old technology that operated under Cold War priorities. Plutonium and Uranium are like Edison’s obstinance with DC power. Thankfully we had people with vision to see the potential and eventually Tesla’s genius. Radiation from our various elements powers the stars, heats our planet’s core, it is our next step. One only has to look at the pictures below of life around an Indian coal mine to see the suffering associated with a fossil fuel supported infrastructure. Nuclear power is an evolving technology that holds the promise of a much brighter future for mankind. Chernobyl was a setback, by far the worst in this developing technology. New, non-weaponizable approaches, such as Thorium, show immense potential for safe, cheap, and environmentally sound energy production. Ludwig’s work ensures we will not forget the suffering of those affected by this disaster. His sobering photos help us learn from our mistakes but it would be a cold world that turned it’s back on fire after the first blister. Molten salt reactor…

  167. Claudia
    March 30, 2014

    This is an amazing article. Thank you for sharing it with us. Its really sad that everyone in the world takes everything for granted. The people born and raised there have no other options than to just exist. There is no place for them to go as they know their fate is coming to an end soon. So sad everyone else into themselves to even care about such an awful disaster. Man will eventually end up destroying the world. There is so much hate everywhere it will never end. Why can’t the world just get along with one another??? Thank you

  168. Andrew Philson
    March 30, 2014

    An insight to a terrible tragedy and some amazing & inspiring photos.

  169. Frank Acedo
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for you photos and reporting on such a sad and dangerous story.

  170. Vijay Diwan
    March 30, 2014

    Really fascinating, revives old memories years back, & makes us believe what can happen

  171. Sam
    March 30, 2014

    DocAnchovy- Was that really necessary, she mentioned coverage on abortion and you jump all over her. How do you even know what side she’s on and why does it matter on an article about Chernobyl. Pick your battles where they matter.

  172. StevenTorrey
    March 30, 2014

    It was a very moving and captiviating story when it first happened and remains so. While the technology is a godsend, humanity needs to be always reminded of its own limitations with this technology.

  173. PhoenixLake
    March 30, 2014

    Thank You for the photos and humanity you have shown us all. The school mural on the wall is amazingly beautiful and shows all the wonders of a natural world in a very deadly unnatural place where children were once at Peace. Go Solar energy and stop the madness at nuclear reactors. Do not use something you cannot control. Chernobyl,Three Mile Island,Fukushima Daiichi….

  174. Brenda
    March 30, 2014

    The Chernobyl hype is slowly, very slowly being exposed. Not only is there now wide agreement that the death toll from the 1986 explosion is so far is around 50, rather than Peter Garrett’s 30,000, it turns out that living near the old reactor might be healthier than moving to the cities:

    Now a top British scientist has evaluated the comparative risks and concluded that for those most affected by the disaster – emergency workers and people living nearby – the increased risk of premature death due to radiation is around one per cent.

    That is roughly the same as the risk of dying from diseases triggered by air pollution in a major city or the effects of inhaling other people’s tobacco smoke, said Jim Smith of Britain’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology…

    “Populations still living unofficially in the abandoned lands around Chernobyl may actually have a lower health risk from radiation than they would have if they were exposed to the air pollution health risk in a large city such as nearby Kiev,” Smith wrote in the journal BioMedCentral Public Health.

  175. Zanne
    March 30, 2014

    Agreed docAnchovy, Lisa’s comments irrelevant. People need to keep on topic to the articles and quit pushing political and religious agendas on posts. It is quite boring at this time and considered white noise.

  176. Albert
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you Alexa for asking the right questions of Mr. Ludwig, who described the horrors so keenly, that I can feel the sorrows and pains, that were caused by this manmade disaster and suffered by so many. Fukushima seems a good runner-up, which is being mollified to avoid mass protests against everything nuclear.
    Mr. Ludwig managed to get the right perspective with his photographs especially the one of that old lady Kharytina Desha, whose life was so cruelly uprooted at an age, when she was supposed to be able to start enjoying her golden years, after already having lived through that horrible worldwar.
    With a half-life of 24000 years for Plutonium 239 and the immediate destruction of most if not all necessary commodities for civil life, what will our planet be like, if the present powers decide on a winner take all confrontation? Because there won`t be any survivors for long. The ones to survive the actual exchange will envy the dead and the children born after, will suffer as much with their genes so horribly mutated, that they may not even resemble a human.
    What a price to pay for the insanity of the insatiable greed of a few.

  177. Cindy
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing your photographs, for giving us insights into this world. Haunting and provocative. I look forward to your photo book.

  178. Arpita
    March 30, 2014

    A photo essay worth its weight in gold…but my heart skips a beat when I think how some people would misinterpret the intentions of Gerd and see this as exhibitionism of a disaster of unimaginable proportions. Thank you for sharing the plight of people who continue to be affected. Scary, heart breaking, and makes me want to order your book.

  179. Silver
    March 30, 2014

    Excellent and eye opening article. Especially the photographs of the aftermath of the 1986 disaster. Looking forward to reading your new book.

  180. Barbara Kuehner
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for putting a face on actual and potential nuclear disaster. This helps people understand the concept of the half life of plutonium 239. No country with nuclear facilities has solved the problem of radioactive waste disposal. We don’t seem to understand that half lives can be longer than any government will be in power. The photos and descriptions communicate at a very deep level.

  181. cheryl jenkins
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for gifting the world with the clarity and poignancy of the aftermath in Chernobyl. I was particularly touched by little Igor. What a beautiful child. The world needs more graphic journalism by artists such as yourself to expose the large scale of man’s inhumanity to man.

  182. P.H.
    March 30, 2014

    What else can anyone say, but, how very sad. A whole community distorted and destroyed and innocent people’s live disrupted. Not only disrupted but, forever annihilated by cancer and whatever else this disaster brings with it. I think of the little children who have very little or no future at all due to the (perhaps miriade) of health problems that will plague them throughout their lives. Anyone living near one of these facilities should shudder. I know, I live down-wind of one and every time there is any news of problems I wonder if we will be the next Chernobyl disaster. May God comfort and restore those whose lives have been so drastically changed. May God help us to live our lives so as not to harm another human being. Thank you for this article.

  183. Richard Opper
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for keeping this disaster fresh in people’s minds. Few events in my adult life have grabbed my attention the way the Chernobyl did. I ultimately wrote an historical novel about the event (Heart of the Monster), largely to address my obsession with the event head-on. We are approaching 30 years since the disaster, and I still cannot get come to terms with the suffering of victims of Chernobyl.

  184. Linda
    March 30, 2014

    Thank You for exposing what a sieries of mistakes can lead to. This can happen anywhere at any time, so many tend to ignore or cover up the dangers we as a society take.

  185. Pat Lisowski
    March 30, 2014

    We in America just don’t know how comfortable and lucky we are.Now if nobody hits the wrong button……..

  186. Brian
    March 30, 2014

    For your honor and gift to all I thank you.
    We cannot afford to forget

  187. Darimont jacques
    March 30, 2014

    C’est effrayant! Je ne pensais pas à un tel point! Très bon reportage avec beaucoup d’humanisme! Et courage pour oser le faire. Bravo! Cela me fait mal pour ces enfants.

  188. Edna
    March 30, 2014

    wonderful pictures,let’s pray nothing like this will never happen again. It’s so scary when there is so much nuclear power around in different countries. Bless you for your courage.

  189. Mary Wooley
    March 30, 2014

    Re:Beautiful, heartbreaking work. Thank you. How I wish the same could be done with the disaster of abortion on demand. It is being done right now,read the news, children suffer at the hands of the “parents” who never wanted them in the first place and at the mightier than thou that insists they be born anyway then refuse to feed,clothe,or house them much less adquate medical care…..

  190. Jarhead1981
    March 30, 2014

    DocAnchovy: I’m sure that you are all about freedom of speech and expression, except when people like Lisa express thoughts that differ from yours.

  191. Desertrat
    March 30, 2014

    To Docanchovy—To bad you were not a byproduct of “abortion on demand!”

  192. Leslie
    March 30, 2014

    when I was in Armenia in 2001, people spoke of the forced labor of Armenian men to Chernobyl of 3 month stints at a time, and the effects of PTSD, cancers that were being genetically based to their children, and the overall trauma of being forced to be part of the cleanup. These photos are a reminder of what we don’t want to see or know about.

  193. Dick Linn
    March 30, 2014

    Situations like this and inadequate planning for worse case scenarios turn people away from Nuclear Power. Like putting the emergency generators along the shore in a place with the highest amount of earth quakes and recorded Tsunamis in the world in Japan, who does that? All while environmentalist are forcing the shut down of coal and gas generating in the US, while the filtering of their output is improving all the time and disposal of their outputs does not have a half life of millions of years. At the same time China and others are expanding coal and nuclear generation daily no American power plant should be closed until a proven replacement is in place!

  194. John Kaliis
    March 30, 2014

    An unfortunate disaster which may have been avoided. Working and maintaining breeder reactors in the 50’s and 60’s, we had no incidents. The Soviet Union obtained our reactor design (illegally), however, its apparent that they eliminated many of the safety measures we have (perhaps for enonomical reasons) which may have prevented this disaster.

  195. Yoko Chase
    March 30, 2014

    We must stop producing, using, and throwing the waste of nuclear energy.

  196. Maruchi
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for the thought-provoking article and photographs, a reminder of how much man can do or undo with the touch of a button.

  197. Chebon
    March 30, 2014

    Hey DocAnchovy- your comments are Seriously irrelevant..with a capital S. Not trying to take away from a really awesome story, I agree with Lisa and I am not a Fundamentalist. I am a human being who believes in life and not murdering babies.

  198. Darek Cieslik
    March 30, 2014

    Mr. Ludwig thank you for your courage to go on this remarkable assigment and get these pictures. I was a child of the Charnobyl disaster as a 9 year old boy living near Krakow Poland. I still remember when news finally arrived in Poland of the accident we were rushed to hospitals to take iodine tablets. I also remember the words of my uncle the worst is yet to come. Your pictures tell what he predicted.

  199. Leah
    March 30, 2014

    I was 32 when this disaster happened and although I knew it would be a VERY long time before the danger was gone, your scientist’s comment about a sign on a fence not inhabitable for 24,000 years chilled me to the bone. Even having grown up in the cold war time I don’t believe that I have ever truly understood the true nature of plutonium. Thank you for a very compelling story.

  200. Fernando Ingles
    March 30, 2014

    Watch the documentary “Pandora’s Promise”.
    It talks about Chernobyl in a quite different manner.

  201. Loran
    March 30, 2014

    Chernobyl was not a set of accidents/human error. It was the direct result of illegal experiments being conducted that ended in hideous catastrophe.

  202. Sue
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for the amazing and haunting work, Gerd.

    Doc Anchovy, agreed.

  203. bobbi
    March 30, 2014

    What a reminder of the dangers of nuclear reactors! Isn’t it interesting that we put money above safety for our families and the planet, again and again. Thanks for reminding us, and educating others about this tragedy & its seemingly eternal effects!

  204. Heiner
    March 30, 2014

    Quite terrible. Before crucifying nuclear power however, remember the thousands that die annually due to the uncontrolled dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by coal, gas, oil power plants, which results in natural catastrophies. Also, >3000 die every year in coal mines. Nuclear is still the safest and cleanest form of energy production, together with wind, solar, hydro.

  205. Dave Reed
    March 30, 2014

    Excellent documentary of the perils of this type of nuclear reactor. As an engineer, I never understood why they chose to use “Graphite” as a moderator in the reactor. After all, graphite can burn… which it did. Here in the US, the PWR nuclear designs have just about proven themselves fail-safe considering what happened with Three Mile Island. It is so sad that this area will be long term contaminate (1/2 life 24,000 yrs) when technology is looking at Fusion to be a reality in 20 or 30 years. Chernobyl is a history lesson that should never be forgotten. You simply cannot take changes, or shortcuts, when dealing with anything that can have such devastating consequences “if” something goes wrong. Murphy and father time will eventually uncover that “if”… and it will happen.

  206. Janet D. Howesman
    March 30, 2014

    Chernobyl caused this much damage with just (1) core meltdown…which was buried in concrete eventually. Ja pan’s Fu kish ima Da ichi plant STILL has 3 core meltdowns in progress…3 years laters after that horrible tsu nami hit Ja pan in 2 013. Chernobyl is stunning but nothing compared to Jap an and the Pa cific Ocean’s ongoing radiation leakage nightmares. I hope Net Geo is also documenting Fu kishima to learn from too. Most folks are not aware of its severity.

  207. Raymond
    March 30, 2014

    And, of course, Chernobyl can/will never happen in Japan or here. :>(

  208. Jacqueline
    March 30, 2014

    My heart aches at seeing an abandoned child in an asylum, no doubt a victim of Chernobyl. Retardation can be mitigated with loving care and attention this poor child will never get.

  209. Michael
    March 30, 2014

    Take a look at Chernobyl Exclusion Zone by Ron Azevedo.

  210. Josue
    March 30, 2014

    This accident brought terrible consequences for thousands of people. Reminding us about such devastating episode is an heroic and epic action. My only memory about this accident is very vague because I was at a very young age. Living in Cuba where all the information is hidden moreover if that affects the perfection of the communism was simply being behind the scene. That was fustrating, because only living outside is when you realize that a world exists. Nevertheless, we received many children who were seriously affected and they were located in a beautiful area close to the beach and were offered with the best treatment. At least we did something good for them. Many of them still live in Cuba and apparently they have had a perfect recovery. It would be a good chance to catch their memories 30 years after such disaster

  211. Jerry Miller
    March 30, 2014

    “Not meant for human habitation for 24,000 years…” What will our ancestors be thinking of us then? Great story and even greater courage for Gerd Ludwig’s motivation to photograph such a dangerous place. Well done!

  212. Christina Lockyer
    March 30, 2014

    Inspirational and documentation of just one example of how mankind mistakenly continues to believe we have complete control over our destiny. Why do we continue to play with fire? You are a brave person, Gerd, with an important message to impart.

  213. Bruce B Henry
    March 30, 2014

    What was the operational error that led to this tragedy? Can this type of catastrophe be prevented?

  214. northeast
    March 30, 2014

    There are many who agree with Lisa…maybe one day YOU will grow up and end your adolescent thinking!

  215. Morgan
    March 30, 2014

    So SCARY!!

  216. Bob Casillo
    March 30, 2014

    I hope the North Koreans will look at these pictures.

  217. Luzineide
    March 30, 2014

    Lembremo-nos sempre, a vida é destruída a cada instante… a cobrança virá com certeza ….

  218. Ae Tee
    March 30, 2014

    Chernobyl Child link has been taking children for respite care for 20+ years just wondered if photographer engaged with how those children progressed before/after being away from Belarus?

  219. Rudolf
    March 30, 2014

    As a keen photographer myself i admire Ludwigs guts and willingness to do what he does well Great picture telling photos which is what photography is about Thanks Ludwig

  220. Maurice (Moe)
    March 30, 2014

    As a 20 year-old Comm. Tech in the RCAF, I did a 6 month tour of duty with ONUC (UN) in the Congo over the winter of ’61/’62. My unit provided long distance radio comms with Europe and North America… During those six months there was one thing I learned: beneath the surface patina of civilization in Africa there lies a potential for savagery beyond comprehension… We have friends in South Africa who often ask us to come visit but I refuse to fly over the African continent. Even then, the glow of corruption was rampant and woe be to those who didn’t comply to demands.

  221. Sandy
    March 30, 2014

    To Jim (Posted 3/27/14) wondering how nature and the animals are thriving. Saw a t.v. show on a channel such as Nat. Geo. or Smithsonian (can’t remember) but it featured the flora and fauna of that region all these years later and they seem to be flourishing surprisingly enough.

  222. Barry
    March 30, 2014

    People in Borneo live as they have for hundreds of years.We live in this high speed world filled with wars and “accidents”. Which world has experienced PROGRESS ? ?

  223. ss
    March 30, 2014

    I was watching a TV episode about C. recently but it didn’t show reactor inside.Pictures are amazing.

  224. Chuck Phelps
    March 30, 2014

    So now we’ve had 3 mile island, Chernobyl, and Fukishima (sic). All of these were due to human error. Yes even Japan can be shown to be human error because of the erroneous placement of the generators that were supposed to keep the plant operational. Germany is abandoning its nuclear plants. Since we can not trust ourselves with this technology, maybe it just isn’t worth the risk.

  225. Eldon jackson
    March 30, 2014

    Beautiful pictures. I am glad someone is documenting this to show future people what can happen.

  226. Alex JF Meelker
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for putting your life on the line also…..These are photographs that should be remembered for all time…My heart goes out not only to the children that have to endure the life that was not chosen by them…I hope some will carry out the work you have started here for many more generations….May God bless you and the Russian people this has affected…

  227. Ken
    March 30, 2014


  228. Juan Luis Serna
    March 30, 2014

    I haven’t read anything before about Chernobyl.. Just what my teacher in Elementary School told us about it. Im really inpressed of this photographs, the courage of Gerd Ludwig to remember to the mankind what are we capable to do.. In this case shows the negative side of our humanity.. The power & ambition we have. I hope this photographs and this article fly around the web just to share with everybody the history of our ancestors. Learn about it is important.

  229. Stanley Wojcik
    March 30, 2014


  230. John Moulder
    March 30, 2014

    When will we understand and comprhend and decide to walk closer to GOD.
    He is a GOD of love,grace and mercy. Nothing is impossible for HIM.
    HE has put a plan in place for all of us to be saved.
    When will we learn and understand, or will we in our stupidity continue to destroy this wonderful gift of the world from GOD given in love.
    How long will it take for us to come to our senses?

  231. Sarka Coningsby
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for your couragage, for your fantastic work….there are different kinds of suffering in this world, I live now in Africa where I can see other disasters, but this….this is too close to my heart by being Bohemian….Thank you….there are no words…you are doing incredible work in the terms of historical inportance…let all the children of today , all of them , see one of those day in the future, what this catastrophy caused….I love the picture of the 92-old women and her dedication to live and die in her homeland, one understand it so much better if living abroad..Well, Carpe Diem. With a huge respect, Sarka from Africa

    March 30, 2014

    A beautiful job, Gerd & very haunting. It reminds me of an Arthur C. Clarke novel in which some characters visited a fictional place also devastated by a nuclear accident.

  233. Joe
    March 30, 2014

    Great photographs — really. Too bad the photographer has such huge misunderstandings of radiation and radioactive material. He appears to struggle to understand even something as basic as radiation versus contamination. While Chernoybl is far and away the world’s worst nuclear accident it would have been greatly mitigated if only the plant designers and builders had factore din robust containment structures common to most of the rest of the World, especially US nuclear plant designs. Does he think the death distributed far more slowly but on a much more massive scale by the consumption of coal is less?

  234. Mariam
    March 30, 2014

    We blew ourselves up in Atlantis and we have now done it again in Chernobyl Will we learn?

  235. Donna
    March 30, 2014

    As a photographer, I appreciate your work, as a human it just reminds me that we are all one…what happens to one, happens to us all. Hopefully we will learn from this disaster. They are brave people that want to die on their own land. Thank you for this small look at a great tragedy

  236. Regina Goodhall
    March 30, 2014

    Whenever we look at our energy consumption, we need to be aware of the potential cost. The risks may be low but the price of failure is phenomenal.

  237. Cindy H
    March 30, 2014

    Powerfully photographed and beautifully written.
    My heart breaks for little Igor and others like him who are suffering as a result of this horrible disaster.
    We continue to learn.
    Thank you for your dedication, Gerd.

  238. Gary Gorsich
    March 30, 2014

    May god protect us all from these disasters.

  239. Marco Gutierrez
    March 30, 2014

    La mano del hombre destruye toda la creación divina, estas fotografias se valoran para hacer conciencia a las presente y futuras generaciones, de los horrores que se producen a causa de la radiación, todo por la ambicion del hombre del poder. Señor Ludwin se aprecia su trabajo y de como arriesga su vida para da a conocer esta catástrofe.

  240. Rosslyn Picton
    March 30, 2014

    These photographs are haunting to say the least. The horrific ghosts that linger over a dark past. I was also moved to tears viewing the picture if little Igor. He is a heartbreaking reminder of the devastation Chernobyl caused.

  241. Ken Price
    March 30, 2014

    Chernobyl demonstrates that an “all-knowing” government doesn’t know everything, and is actually quite stupid. Be it Communist or Capitalist, the results are the same! Governments make mistakes, the governed clean up the mess.

  242. Rohan Fernando
    March 30, 2014

    This is a good lesson to the entire world to be happy with what nature offers. Getting back to basics is the only option to overcome the harsh reactions we are facing all over the world.

  243. Ken
    March 30, 2014

    DocAnchovy – Thank you for your kind and considerate suggestion to Lisa, although it appears — based on what she said — that she will be unlikely to heed or even hear it because it seems she is inextricably locked into the equivalent of a radioactive Chernobyl sarcophagus in her own mind.

  244. sam ogilvie, jr.
    March 30, 2014

    Just days ago, I attempted to explain to several Russian citizens why I had faith in or reason to believe the reports and photographs from foreign journalists and photographers on the ground in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine. I spoke of an almost mystical dedication to the truth and its dissemination and the seemingly boundless compassion that are common to so many people in those professions. I was unaware of Gerd Ludwig at the time, but surely he represents what I attempted to describe. Blessings to Ms. Desha and young Igor. Their stories are as powerful as they are heartrending.

  245. semena
    March 30, 2014

    Another” gift “to the world from nearsighted visionaries.
    Exposed to the world by first hand human suffering.

  246. Vishak
    March 30, 2014

    Absolutely beautiful story covering human suffering in the midst of human error. So disheartening to see the world moving in the same path and human exploitation of earth. Great work and I wish all the success for Gerd Ludwig for the mission he set out for!

  247. Nancy
    March 30, 2014

    Ludwig’s commitment to tell this story, at his own personal risk, is remarkable. The photos are mesmerizing and are a sad testimony to the arrogance of those who believe we can master the horrific dangers we have the ability to unleash.

  248. marie lyon
    March 30, 2014

    My husband and I were spending a year in England when the Chernobyl disaster occurred and we were told that we should never donate blood. That is how far the fall-out spread. Gerd Ludwig’s interview and photos are excellent and make us realize how vulnerable our tampering with nature can be. I identify with the older people that have returned to their original land. Attachment to homelands is very strong.

  249. Arismike
    March 30, 2014

    May God bless Pripyat and everyone that used to live there. I hope one day they will be able to find a permanent solution to the problem.

  250. Maria
    March 30, 2014

    I’m 33 years old Kyiv sitizen. About 130 km from Chornobyl. I was 6 wheh Chornobyl explosed. This march doctor told me the diagnosis AIT, that means i’d take hormons for all my life. There is also a problem whith pregmancy:(

  251. Hillary Hunt
    March 30, 2014

    Thankyou for taking such a great risk to document this firsthand. As one of Russian decent myself (my Great Great Great Great….Grandfather was General Mikhail Kutuzov), a mother, a nurse, and a Christian, this is just horrific to me. Poor, sweet, innocent little Igor….and the precious little teenage boy with thyroid cance r- HEARTBREAKING! No one should ever turn a blind eye to anything like this! I wish there was something I could do, but sadly, I am in the US. So, for now, I will pray daily for the unfortunate victims of this disaster. And I will pray for you and your health. Thankyou again for your dedication and hard work. 🙂

  252. Janell Simpson
    March 30, 2014

    These photos are a memorial to remind us of our responsibility for this disaster. How long will the impact both environmental and human remain with us? Forever.

  253. Durwood Foshee jr
    March 30, 2014

    What wonderful pictures. Is there a fund for the people living there for items needed

  254. Vivian Avraamidou
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you Gerd for keeping us alert.

  255. Brian K. Brown
    March 30, 2014

    A stark reminder of the frailty of humanity in our ongoing misunderstanding of how much we affect Mother Earth.

  256. DocAnchovy
    March 30, 2014

    Lisa- Your comment is not only irrelevant, it reeks of mean spirited, “so-called” Fundamentalist Christian ethos. Grow up and smell the radiation disaster.

  257. Akriti
    March 30, 2014

    It is indeed a heart-breaking story of a man-made disaster whose repercussions live in an inhuman state. Nobody deserves a life such as those of the victims and the bystanders. Thank you Gerd Ludwig for keeping our eyes open to our humanness.

  258. Ron Binkley
    March 30, 2014

    Thankyou for helping 2 teach me about the plight of those sweet people. I was 18 when it happened, and like most people, I felt bad, but I didn’t give it a second thought. But when you see the men, and women, and especially the littlest child horribly effected, it makes you wake up, and hopefully grow a heart! I hope, and Pray that some day we can prevent horrible traumas like this from ever happening! And Thankyou 4 the wake up slap!

  259. Liliana Valdes
    March 30, 2014

    I’m really moved by the story by the amazing photos but mostly by the corageous photographer who let us know this story about a place once alive and now full of nostalgia and sadness for the people suffering. Thank you!!!! God bless you.

  260. Roy Cochrun
    March 30, 2014

    We visited the Chernobyl museum in Kiev in October 2012 where we photographed many of the exhibits. It had a profound influence on me. Gerd Ludwig’s photos provide for me a stunning follow-up to our museum visit.

  261. Gary Scallorn
    March 30, 2014

    This is the 1st. time I’ve seen close-up of Inside the area. So sad we as human’s can make something as big & dangerous as that Plant. Then go & make mistakes to do the Hurt & Pain to the people, animals, land & water that destroyed all for so many hundred’s of years, maybe thousands ? Ludwig you did a facinating story with pic’s. to prove it!!! May the Good Lord never let that happen again!!! God Bless those folks for what they been through, & still going through!!!

  262. Bill Lai
    March 30, 2014

    The story of Chernobyl must be kept alive to be a warning to the rest of the world that nuclear power is clean yet dangerous energy. The governments and the nuclear reactor operators must be more transparent and let the people know the risk and let our life revolve around it. I live in HK and up to now, we know very little about the Fukushima disaster.

  263. Edmond Junker
    March 30, 2014

    We are not spared by such a catastrophic event.Everyone hopes it will happen after his life and that his descendantswill know how to stop the apocalypse.I wish them all luck.

  264. Patrick cooper
    March 30, 2014

    Sad to think someone in a few years will say it never happened.

  265. Mary Pahel
    March 30, 2014

    Very nice pictures, excellent work, my family is from Ukraine — much interest in all.

  266. Big D
    March 30, 2014

    A very beautiful and inspiring story and art. It does grab your heartstrings to hear of/see the examples of pain and suffering.

    However. I think this piece will add to the misunderstanding of nuclear power that has stifled development for decades. Both Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi have been seized on and exaggerated by radiophobes (many innocent of science).

    New nuclear like MSR/LFTR has the potential to generate nearly unlimited energy without the downsides of current nucelar…and zero CO2.

    But noooo, nuclear is baaad.

  267. Liliana
    March 30, 2014

    I feel deeply touch by the photos but mostly the courageous photographer who let us know with these amazing photos the sorrow and nostalgia of a place once was full of life. I love it thanks!!!!!

  268. jolanta
    March 30, 2014

    Grate work!!!! don’t let us forget.

  269. Nadine Francis
    March 30, 2014

    Having worked in both coal fire and nuclear power plants for over 20 years I have the somewhat understanding as to how a plant functions. That was truly the largest control room I have ever seen and was fascinated by the instrumentation on placement of the rods in the reactor on the control panel. This was a tremendous piece of work and the photographer is not only spot on with his pictures and narrative but a very brave man to take on such a recurring assignment. Thank you so very much for the indepth explanations and great photography. I will look forward to purchasing his book when it is released.

  270. Navjit siddhu asiya
    March 30, 2014

    May we all open our hearts and minds to helping others not just here but there as well. Thank you so much Mr. Ludwig for inspiring us to keep humanity alive. God bless…

  271. harold
    March 30, 2014

    I just returned from Ukraine, visiting farms just to the east of Chernobyl – the devastation to that country lies far outside the exclusion zone. And not just from the nuclear accident.

    March 30, 2014

    It is heart touching movement ,stunning photos ,the history teaches us how much we safe and what precaution should we take before and after the incidents, how to use the reactor safe secure

  273. Carl Anderson
    March 30, 2014

    We need to know more about such things. I spent a few weeks in northern Ukraine in March of 2013, it was one of my goals to see more about this tragedy but weather prevented getting closer. The reporter is right about access there. There are “tours” to the area, but restricted and slightly expensive. I intend to go to Ukraine again as soon as I can. The people are generally very kind, especially in the countryside regions. I think a lot of Americans could learn some things about other peoples by visiting such places. Last year’s trip humbled me, as do all of my trips to places less affluent. Chernobyl must never happen again. I have lived in Japan and also (from a distance) encountered the people’s reactions here to nuclear disasters too. As with post-Soviet-era governments, the Japanese government and TEPCO are also trying to be hush-hush about mort details of Fukushima Power Plant. It is amazing how much is being swept under the rug here to avoid making “waves” socially. Using the oft-used “Shiran kao” (looking as if nothing has happened) attitude here. I would not be surprised if there are some things discovered here later that will make the populace angry…but Japanese are much more willing to just accept how things are for the sake of social balance…this sadly, is something that make cost them more in the end. I only hope we can learn from these human tragedies and work to make this a cleaner, safer world. God bless those in Ukraine, Belarus, and Japan…and all affected by this horror man has created.

  274. norm
    March 30, 2014

    God rules nature. not man.
    when man tries to rule and handle
    nature, disaster occurs. Especially
    when man tries to build nuclear
    power for diverse reasons, and this
    one was self-defense against possible other nations attack.
    the mindset of man is one of fear
    of other nations and building weapons to have a false sense of
    defense. In the meantime, we play
    with nature and suffer the consequences of not knowing what we really are doing. Let God handle
    nature, You , well just enjoy nature
    and DO NOT play with it. That is
    God’s domain not man.

  275. Fil
    March 30, 2014

    This shook me through and through. Firstly because there is a photographer willing to risk his health to show an epic example of human inability to control the events which are thought to be understood, even when equipped with multiple security systems…
    Secondly, the ultimate ignorance of people who downplay first the latent danger, and then the catastrophic extents of consequences, including people in every phase of building and exploiting such high-risk enterprise as a nuclear plant, willing to make shortcuts of all sorts just to augment the profit…
    Lastly, the undisputable fact that humans can’t expect any kind of absolute safety from their own projects on this thin crust of our Planet (shown in subsequent nuclear disasters), especially when it is known that adverse effects can span lifetime of many generations.
    People conquer technology and build industry which then turns around and conquers people… all for profit and other short-term, primitive reasons. In the same time, the worldwide employment of natural power sources (photoelectric, wind, waves etc.) still struggles, instead of having become commonplace by way back…
    Excellent work, Gerd, stated by a fellow photographer – and my heartfelt congrats on your courage and dedication.

  276. nitin d
    March 30, 2014

    Fantastic pictures and tenacious work. Cannot help but wonder what happened to the ghosts of Chernobyl who once lived and worked there. Have they been forgotten by history and hidden by society?

  277. Elliott de Luca
    March 30, 2014

    Why all the mentions of “God” exactly? Please keep those sentiments to yourselves. Comment on the photos, and the emotions they evoke within you, but there’s no need for religion. It’s irrelevant.

    • Stewart Davies
      March 30, 2014

      The Elliott de Luca’s of this world PRIDE themselves on their being so “rational” yet what they betray is the fact that they hate the very idea that God exists. A God who can will the entire universe into existence is one before Whom we must all submit. These “rationalists” are far too self-important for that. They will soon learn the hard way that it is precisely because God is now regarded as irrelevant, or even non-existent, that humanity is now passing through the most critical times in all history.

  278. EdW
    March 30, 2014

    Humans can create lots of things for a better life, as energy for people. But also can misunderstand how to use it and create disasters for its own life. Chernobyl was a clear example and I hope it was a changing point.

  279. Aspy.
    March 30, 2014

    The two photos, the one of a young challenged kid abandoned by parents and the other of the man + boy with thyroid cancer should be used to deter countries from indulging in Nuclear Arms race and the stupid folks of those countries who take pride in and boast of the same. Sad people do not realize that a fate worst than any other is just waiting to happen.

  280. Joe Vega
    March 30, 2014

    Nuclear power; such dichotomy. On the one hand, it can cleanly produce energy for millions and millions, for a fraction of what other conventional methods cost. And, on the other hand it can be a poison, that can potentially ruin the lives of millions and millions.

  281. Lucy
    March 30, 2014

    …and so you help us remember..Vladamir, Ivan, Luda and all my Belarus cousins who have passed away already. Vladamir- a radiobiologist- Chernobyl was his work. His young wife Luda died of cancer shortly after he passed away. My cousin Ivan in Lubc- a healthy, artistic outdoorsman who lived off the land. The contaminated wildlife may have contributed to his cancer. The rest of my cousins? How long will they survive? Belarus suffers deeply, and the astounding pictures of Chernobyl is their memorial. Peace!

  282. Robert
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you for the pictures.

  283. mary hunt
    March 28, 2014

    So sad ,thank you for a 1st rate, up to date item Please do all you can to keep Chernobyl in peoples minds We in Derry N.Ireland have a very active group helping the children who need respite ,also supporting famliys who are still suffering today .

  284. MoreDecayBytheDay
    March 28, 2014

    Very cool pictures and a fine, albeit very short article.

    This was released by smithsonian earlier this month regarding the nuclear effects on the surrounding forests – not good.

    When reading these articles, one must keep in mind that these are all micro-scale outlooks. They’re focusing on certain effects and forms of life and not really relating them to the big picture at all.

    These rads are cumulative and so far as we know there is no way to “flush” them from an environment – be it a forest or your body. Nor is there a practical way to “deactivate” the radionuclides.
    As suggested in the story, humanity’s best bet is to build a fence and stay away for 9 to 10 half-lifes.

    When there is no habitable land left on this planet because of these technologies we will certainly understand that this was not the “progress” we were promised.

  285. Carol
    March 28, 2014

    God Bless you Gerd Ludwig. for highlighting the plight of these people who are suffering every moment of their life. May every nation on earth be mindful of their careless mistakes in order to prevent another tragedy like this happening again..

  286. Francesco Beroldo
    March 28, 2014

    Beautiful and haunting pictures & much needed to keep the memories alive; now that Ukraine is struggling even more and the building of new cover for the reactor is overdue the world must be reminded not only of the terrible legacy of the meltdown but of a possible worst disaster that might unfold if nothing is done.
    This blog prompted me to watch a documentary on Chernobyl with footage and witness reports that were kept secret for years. I was 15 when the incident happened; at the time living in Genoa, in the North of Italy: we were victims of substantial fall-out of radioactive dust but we were ‘lucky’: we had public information then and drastic measures were taken: in my city we had maps published on newspapers with radioactive hot-spots, children were not allowed to play outdoors, we could not eat large leaf vegetables, exposed cattle were slaughtered and disposed of. This did not happen in the immediate aftermath of the explosion in Kiev for weeks, where people were unaware of the seriousness of the situation and enjoyed the spring time outdoors; the May parade to celebrate communism went ahead exposing thousands to unnecessary, possibly lethal risk. Now the rest of the world turn the other way: if nothing is down the molten material will seep in the aquifer under the plant and bring highly doses of radiation to a much bigger area; the livelihood of millions will be affected. The Western world already turned a blind eye to the frank report submitted by the soviets to the IAEA that 40,000 people would be affected, the figure was down played to a mere 4,000. Now we are catching up with reality twenty years later.

  287. Christine
    March 27, 2014

    God bless you on this mission to make sure we never forget this horrific tragedy. Thank you for bringing people like Igor into my world, I would not have heard of him if it were not for your commitment to share his story.

  288. Edward Mata
    March 27, 2014

    Thank you for the breathtaking , heart pounding experience and for an amazing and inspirational photo’s.

  289. Stewart Davies
    March 27, 2014

    We in the West must be profoundly thankful and deeply humbled because Gerd Ludwig is moved by such immense love and compassion that he risks his own personal well-being to reveal to us at least a small fraction of the immense human tragedy that is Chrnobyl and its hellish continuing legacy.

    I was particularly moved by the description of Igor, and the smile that adorned his face when Gerd squeezed his hand. I suspect that it is the first such smile to have adorned this face, so loved by God, in his entire tragic life. Such a smile illuminates and gives hope to the whole world.

    Nothing is impossible for God, and miracles beyond our wildest imagining can, and do happen. I fervently pray that in His great mercy, love and compassion, our Heavenly Father will heal these people so close to His heart, and give them a wonderful future.

  290. Lorena
    March 27, 2014

    Poor people.. 🙁 Breathtaking. Nice photos.

  291. Hayden Wilde
    March 27, 2014

    Truly Inspirational images!

  292. Jose
    March 27, 2014

    Excelente aportacion, felicidades por su trabajo, el que no revive la historia esta condenado a repetirla

  293. Nicola
    March 27, 2014

    I admire your work. Well done on doing what needs to be done but also for putting your heart into your work.

  294. jeanne
    March 27, 2014

    In 1976, Maria Esperanza who saw Our Lady and Jesus often, said that soon physicists will comprehend the “music” that will transform radiation into a harmless product. Let us pray for this “music” be comprehended. God never gives us weapons of war without an antidote. Nuclear energy is the stuff of the sun, given by a Loving God. We just need to know how to use it. “Be not afraid” were the first words of a new pope about to be canonzied. We ask our Loving Divine Father, on his feast day, for the gift of comprehending this “music”. Amen

  295. Lisa
    March 27, 2014

    Beautiful, heartbreaking work. Thank you. How I wish the same could be done with the disaster of abortion on demand.

  296. Aagam
    March 27, 2014

    Excellent work! mind=blown when I read this.. It truly reflects the gravity of the horrible and sad disaster..

  297. Jim
    March 27, 2014

    Fascinating, would have liked to know more about how nature (animals, insects, plants) is managing.

  298. Partha Chatterjee
    March 27, 2014

    Great work Gerd Ludwig, gives us an opportunity to witness the unfortunate circumstance faced by millions who were no way responsible for what be-felled on them & suffer the worst in absolute silence. Great work of a great photographer!!

  299. vishnu
    March 27, 2014

    Really fascinating and chilling post i wish i could join ur group for further explorations!

  300. Sabrina Morrison
    March 27, 2014

    I’ve always been mesmerized by certain turn of history’s events. And this is most definitely one of them. To try to understand what and why this happened, we’ll I’m beside my self..

  301. Maja Albrechtsen
    March 27, 2014

    Beautiful pictures! And as a person with an ongoing interest in Pripyat and the Chernobyl-incident I am glad to see that this articel contains serious background information about the affected population. Thank you.

  302. Sofia
    March 27, 2014

    Ever since I saw an aerial picture of Chernobyl when I was 9 I’ve been hunted by its apocalyptic, haunting look. Ludwig’s pictures capture how real and lasting the effects of a nuclear meltdown are. In these pictures, Chernobyl remains as an example of how we as humans can eradicate our existence in this world to leave behind reminders of a former life.

  303. Robert L. Muise
    March 27, 2014

    Stunning photos

  304. margarita rocha
    March 26, 2014

    admiro a personas como ese fotografo que arriesga su vida ,para denunciar los desastres que el hombre ocasiona en el mundo.gracias¡¡

  305. edward
    March 26, 2014


  306. patrick
    March 26, 2014

    Strange but fascinating….

  307. Kent
    March 26, 2014


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