“If you start crying, I’ll kick you out right away,”

— Lyudmilla Ignatenko, remembering the 1986 Chernobyl disaster

businessinsider.com | In the wake of the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident, which forced the city of Pripyat in what was then part of the Soviet Union to evacuate after being exposed to toxic levels of radiation, Soviet officials publicly downplayed the incident. To this day, scientists are still working to understand the effects of the fatal explosion.

A firefighter named Vasily Ignatenko and his wife, Lyudmilla, were scheduled to leave for Belarus the morning of the explosion, but their plans were curtailed when Vasily rushed to the power plant at about 1:30 a.m. He promised to wake his wife when he got home, but his severe radiation poisoning forced him to be taken to the hospital.

When Lyudmilla visited her husband, she was ordered not to touch him. “If you start crying, I’ll kick you out right away,” she recalled being told in the book “Voices from Chernobyl.”

Lyudmilla was pregnant at the time but lied to the radiologist to see her husband. Vasily died 14 days after the accident and was buried, as the series shows, in a zinc coffin. Lyudmilla eventually gave birth to her baby, who died after four hours.

Scroll to top