Skip To Content
  • Viral badge

21 Scary Chernobyl Facts That I Don't Recommend You Read Late At Night

"Chernobyl won't be safe for humans to inhabit for at least 20,000 years."

Warning: upsetting and graphic content ahead.

1. It's difficult to estimate, but the ultimate Chernobyl mortality toll could be anywhere between 4,000 and 90,000 people.

2. Vasily Ignatenko, one of the first firefighter responders to the disaster (who appeared as a character on HBO's Chernobyl), suffered a gruesomely slow two-week death from radiation exposure.

3. At Ignatenko's funeral, his body had become so swollen and deformed, his shoes and clothes did not fit.

4. Other accounts from people include their bodies breaking out in "black spots," bodies getting "fat, like a barrel," and also turning "black, like coal, and shrinking."

5. There were an estimated 100,000–200,000 abortions in Europe after Chernobyl as a result of "radiophobia."

6. The area around Chernobyl became known as the Red Forest because of all the dead trees.

7. Chernobyl, Pripyat (the nearby city with lots of residents), and a lot of the surrounding area are now known as the Zone of Alienation or the Exclusion Zone.

8. And, although it's illegal, people still live in this zone.

9. And life in the Exclusion Zone is grim.

10. Residents were not allowed to take their pets during the evacuation back in 1986 — there are upsetting accounts of dogs "howling" and "running after the buses for ages."

11. But there are hundreds of stray dogs still surviving in the woods of Chernobyl and the Exclusion Zone.

12. Sadly, though, these dogs have a shortened life expectancy due to the radiation.

13. You can actually still VISIT the Exclusion Zone — in fact, thousands of people have done it.

14. Things you might see today include a school canteen filled with discarded gas masks on the floor.

15. Or these mysterious dolls that have popped up, arranged neatly on beds, in Chernobyl.

16. There are even eerie silhouette paintings that have appeared on various buildings.

17. And an abandoned amusement park in Pripyat that looks haunted.

18. In Ukraine, in the first five years after the disaster, cases of cancer among children increased by more than 90%.

19. It took over 25 years to build a new shelter over the damaged reactor at Chernobyl.

20. The Chernobyl nuclear plant actually continued operation up until as recently as December 2000.

21. And finally, the area around Chernobyl won't be safe for humans to inhabit for at least 20,000 years.