Chornobyl, 30 years later: A 360 tour of a ghost town

The Ukrainian city of Pripyat, which housed workers from the nearby Chornobyl nuclear power plant, will not be safe for human habitation for 20,000 years, but you can now tour the abandoned municipality online.

The abandoned city of Pripyat was once home to 50,000 people

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(Photos: Sean Gallup/Getty)

The explosion at Chornobyl in Ukraine on April 26, 1986, was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.

Thirty-one people died directly in the accident, while millions more were affected by the resulting release of radioactive material. The explosion at the plant, located in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, was more radioactive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Thirty years later, Pripyat is part of a large forested area called the "zone of alienation," as trees have taken root around the desolate schools and hospitals. Wildlife also has been spotted in the zone

Pripyat was a model Soviet city constructed in the 1970s to house the Chornobyl plant's workers and their families.

On the day of the explosion, many residents gathered on a pedestrian overpass to watch firefighters battle the blaze at Chornobyl Reactor 4. In the tradition of Soviet-era secrecy, they were not told of dangerous radiation levels and toxic dust spreading over the town.

It was 36 hours before the town was evacuated. Residents of the region continue to suffer health effects, including birth defects and terminal cancers caused by radiation.

Today, the haunted ghost town that remains takes tourists, though, to stop the spread of radiation, there are strict rules against leaving with souvenirs.

At the same time, workers travel in and out of the zone to build the "New Safe Confinement," an arch more than 100 metres high and 150 metres long that will encase the reactor itself.

The concrete sarcophagus built hastily around Chornobyl Reactor 4 in 1986 to contain radiation is unstable, and a section of the roof over the turbine building collapsed in 2013. French company Novarka is leading the construction project that will see the New Safe Confinement slid over the entire Chornobyl complex, a project now scheduled for completion in 2017.