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Tim Seuss via Creative Commons/Flickr

In pictures: an amazing return to Chernobyl

Incredible images of the “ground zero” of the 1986 accident.

AS THE 26th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl is marked next week, we decided to take a look back at some of the amazing images captured by photographer Tim Seuss on his two-day trip through the zone of exclusion in March 2009.

What he found on his organised tour was a “more lively” place than he had imagined as it is repopulated by 500 people, most of whom are scientists.

It also boasts two shops, a bar, a hotel, administrative buildings and many “chernocats and chernodogs” who are fed and minded by the research station.

However, there are no inhabitants in the 19km exclusion zone which has been erected around the power plant.

Despite the cheerier-than-expected exterior, the poignant images from what Seuss calls the “ground zero of the 1986 accident” reveal the truly horrific nature of the disaster.

The former inhabitants of the surrounding cities left the area overnight, leaving most of their houses, schools, hospitals and amenities as they were:

In pictures: an amazing return to Chernobyl
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Seuss also took videos of the Red Forest, so named because all the trees were set ablaze by the accident in 1986. Those trees have since been buried in plastic wrap at special sites to protect the ground water and the once-green area is now “brown, bumpy landscape full of uncut grass”.

The average radiation level in the field is about 300 to 500 times higher than normal. In some pockets, radiation is up to 100,000 times higher than it should be.

Seuss’s impressive visual chronicle also includes other videos of the ghost cities, including this one of Chernobyl’s central buildings and amusement parks.

When wandering through the blocks, the guide warned Seuss and his colleagues not to spend too much time in them “not because of physical danger but for emotional danger”.

Read Tim Seuss’s full diary of his two-day visit here>

For more on Timm Suess, follow him on Flickr or check out his website>

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