A woman tests radioactivity at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. On 26th April 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered a series of explosions which led to a nuclear meltdown. 28 people died from immediate radiation exposure from smoke released in the blast. The energy released dragged a plume of uranium dioxide and radioactive particles and gases high into the atmosphere which were scattered over a wide area by eddying atmospheric winds. A 30km evacuation zone was created around the reactor, displacing 135,000 local residents, many of whom have since returned to the region. Millions lived and continue to live in the contaminated area, also known as the zone of alienation.