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Events are being held throughout Russia and Ukraine to mark the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident
Events are being held throughout Russia and Ukraine to mark the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident. An explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant's reactor No.4 in Soviet Ukraine during the early hours of April 26, 1986 spewed radioactive clouds over the U.S.S.R. and Europe. The speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn, told a plenary session that more than 2 million people in his country, including 643,000 children, had been classified as being affected by the disaster. President Viktor Yushchenko will visit today the site of the accident, which remains a virtual ghost town after about 135,000 people were evacuated in the three days after the blast. A restricted zone of 20 miles around the plant, which is about 80 miles north of Kiev and 300 miles west of Moscow, remains in force to this day. Church services in both Ukraine and Russia have also commemorated the tragedy. In Russia, hundreds of people held a rally in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, about 2,500 miles southeast of Moscow, in solidarity with the liquidators, the workers drafted to extinguish fire and clean up the site. "Authorities must compensate you for [your] poor health," Deputy Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Yury Konovalov told liquidators, most of whom had to stop working and live on a small monthly disability payment after being stripped of numerous benefits in recent reforms. After Russian President Vladimir Putin decorated liquidators earlier this week, eight liquidators are set to be decorated in the evening event at a local theater. Soviet authorities sent to Chernobyl about 600,000 liquidators, including soldiers equipped with little more than respirators, from all over the Soviet Union to deal with the blast and to build a confinement shelter, or "sarcophagus", over the destroyed reactor. A project is under consideration to build a new shelter, as cracks have been discovered in the first one built in the aftermath. The United Nations has said about 9,000 people have died as a result of the accident, but environmental groups have disputed the figure, saying it should be at least 10 times higher.
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