The exclusion zone area of 2.6 thousand square kilometers [~1 sq mi] is larger than three Singapores taken together.
In 1986, one of the worst man-made disasters in history occurred there — the accident at the Chornobyl NPP. One of the power units faced a powerful explosion, which completely destroyed the reactor and threw radioactive substances into the air. This was caused by the reactor’s structural defects multiplied by personnel errors and the general drive of the Soviet authorities for setting records: to build the nuclear power plant at the greatest speed possible, to produce as much as possible, and to be in time for the holiday parade on May 1. Following their own style, the Soviet authorities chose to hide the event — the first report about the accident was broadcast two and a half days later, lasting just 14 seconds. No danger to the people was mentioned, and on May 1, tens of thousands of Kyiv residents took part in the festive demonstration — with the radiation level exceeding the norm by hundreds of times.
Due to the Chornobyl disaster, more than 100,000 people were forced to leave their homes in the exclusion zone forever. Over time, nature came back there, literally sprouting through the long-abandoned buildings. Now the place hosts a unique reserve, the only one on the planet, where many animals live peacefully. Though some areas of the zone are still threatened and, therefore, access to them is prohibited, some of them have become popular among tourists from all over the world. The HBO Chornobyl series became a serious impetus, revealing, in particular, many truths hidden in the USSR.
In 2022, Chornobyl once again posed a threat to humanity. The territory of the former nuclear power plant was temporarily occupied and the Russians used heavy armored vehicles at the station, which carried a risk of destroying protective elements around the reactor. The Ukrainians’ heroism knocked the invaders out from Kyiv region, and the Chornobyl NPP is now again under the expert supervision.