The No. 4 nuclear reactor on April 26, 1986, at the Chornobyl Nuclear Station exploded during a routine test. The explosion released radioactive iodine that rose into the air and spread across millions of square miles, polluting every European nation.
Prypiat, the town that is the closest to the reactor, was home to 49,000 people before the catastrophe, mainly the families of the plant workers. Today no one lives here.
Chornobyl city is just 4 kilometers to the south of the reactor. Today about 700 residents have returned to live in the region (although not the town itself).
The town of Prypiat is a freeze-frame of 1980s Soviet life. Slogans are still hanging on walls, and children's toys and other items remain as they were. But houses are rotting, paint is peeling off and looters have taken away anything that might have been of value. Nowadays, the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone is a destination for tourist. For example, in 2004 there were 870 visitors.
More than 20 years after the accident, debate is still raging about the number of directly related deaths. Approximate number of deaths related to the accident range from a few thousand to at least a million.
Guests to the exclusion zone should come as part of a tour group. One-day package with transportation and food included will cost from about $200 to $400.