How Pripyat was evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster

A sunny spring day did not bode well. The wind was warm, and many Pripyat people took to the streets: some to the forest, some to the river, some in a hurry to work. Life went on. No one knew that this was one of the last days of the city.
Many residents of Pripyat have already heard about the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. At night, some saw the flame from the window, heard a quiet “slap” (as eyewitnesses described it later).

Чернобыльская АЭС, фото из Припяти
Chernobyl NPP, photo from Pripyat

But not everyone understood the danger that escaped from the destroyed block number four. Yes, that there is “not everything.” At that time, only a few were aware that the accident was serious. Rumor has it that local Armenians who lived in the first microdistrict of Pripyat were informed by someone unknown, and at 4 o’clock in the morning they hurriedly left the city. The only thing they did not know was that they were not destined to return here.

Эвакуация Припяти, кадры из видео
Evacuation of Pripyat, stills from video

The levels of radiation in the city grew every hour. In the morning after the explosion on April 26, the radiation background was already hundreds of times higher than normal. Radioactive materials have already enveloped the streets. (I recommend watching the real shots of Pripyat on April 26).

The Soviet authorities were preparing for the evacuation in the evening of April 26, when they realized that the situation was critical and the level of radiation continued to grow. In the afternoon, all the institutions of Pripyat were asked to take potassium iodide. But, unfortunately, people were preparing for the May Day holidays. According to eyewitnesses, on Saturday and Sunday in Pripyat they brought out many products for sale. They traded directly in the open air, but people did not know about the danger.

Вертолет около Припяти, кадр из видео "Припять 26 апреля"
Helicopter near Pripyat, frame from the video “Pripyat April 26”

Therefore, on the morning of April 27, about 2,000 buses were brought to Pripyat from all over the Kiev region (and not only). Pripyat decided to evacuate.
April 27, 1986 on the streets and radio points of the city announced the evacuation. It sounded something like this: “Attention, attention! Dear comrades! Today, the Pripyat city council decides to evacuate the city’s population for 3 days in connection with the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Today, April 27 at 14:00 a bus will be served to each house. Close windows, turn off water taps. Take with you only the necessary things for the first case, documents and foodstuffs ”(You can find the full text on the Internet). This announcement was read by a resident of Pripyat Nina Melnik.
There was no panic. People knew that they could return home in 3 days. Some took guitars with them, as they hoped to meet the May holidays in nature.

Город Припять, 2019 год
Pripyat city, 2019

And so, at 14:00 the evacuation of Pripyat began. People went out with bags and children, calmly got on buses. Someone planned to leave with relatives, others were promised dormitory rooms.
People from Pripyat were taken to nearby settlements: Ivankov, Polesskoye, Kiev. Later, a couple of days later a hundred villages of the Chernobyl disaster zone were also evacuated.
People left everything acquired in their homes, including animals.

Город Припять, 2019 год
Pripyat city, 2020

Liquidators, dosimetrists, and police came to the city. Streets and buildings were tried to be washed from radiation with a special “burda” soap solution. But this did not help, since the reactor remained open for another six months. Pripyat managed to nourish a huge amount of radionuclides in itself: it took cesium, strontium, plutonium and americium forever (for at least 20,000 years) from people at home.

Касса в одном из зарошенных магазинов Припяти
Cash desk in one of the abandoned shops of Pripyat

Therefore, people have not returned here. Everyone was waiting, hoping. But it did not happen.
Today, the city of Pripyat nuclear scientists remains one of the most dangerous places on the planet. The place where the Soviet Union froze reminds us of the Chernobyl disaster and also remains without noisy, but caring residents who would not let the whole story collapse.

Заброшенный дом в Припяти
Abandoned house in Pripyat

The city of Pripyat now looks like this ..

В заброшенном детском саду Припяти
In the abandoned kindergarten of Pripyat

Numerous abandoned children’s toys await their owners

В заброшенном детском саду Припяти
In the abandoned kindergarten of Pripyat

Nature as if swallows the city