CM – 35 years after Chernobyl: How the Irish independent reported a nuclear disaster that shocked the world

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The picture taken by a helicopter in April 1986 shows a general view of the destroyed 4th power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few days after the disaster. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

Ciara O’Loughlin

The world was shaken on April 26, 1986 after two catastrophic explosions at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine.

35 years have passed today , since the worst nuclear disaster in history occurred, both in terms of cost and causality.

The news of the Chernobyl disaster was on the front page of the Irish Independent on April 29th.

The headline on the front page read « Big toll in case of nuclear disasters feared », while the standfirst explained in more detail: « The worst nuclear accident in the world may have caused huge losses in the Soviet Union and blew up a radioactive cloud in Northern Europe. »

At the time it was not known how devastating the explosion would be to the lives of people in the vicinity.

In the article, the Irish Independent reported However, a US nuclear scientist said it was « almost the worst possible scenario with unknown effects ».

It was feared that the disaster would extend far beyond neighboring countries. However, the Irish Independent reported on April 29th that the people of Ireland were “safe”.

It said: « Ireland had no need to fear radiation and urination last night – even though it was 10 times normal scientists pointed out – last night. « 

The paper reported that the first indication of the disaster was when a wave of radioactivity struck Scandinavia, triggering alarms at nuclear power stations across the region.

The disaster was also the first time the Soviet Union admitted a nuclear accident in its territory.

A paragraph from the archived article reads: « The Soviets initially denied that there was any problem at one of their nuclear facilities, but gave up last night finally admitted on state television that an accident had happened at the Chernobyl plant. « 

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The picture taken by a helicopter in April 1986 shows a general view of the destroyed 4th power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few days after the disaster. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

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Ronald Reagan was the US President at the time, and it was reported in the newspaper that a White House spokesman said; « It must be very serious for the Soviets to talk about it ».

The Irish Independent went on with the story for his front page headline, « Soviet Deaths Authorized as Reactor Fire. »

The number of the deaths and illnesses caused by the disaster remains a controversial issue.

According to the official death toll, 31 people died as a result of the explosion.

The UN estimates that around 50 deaths are directly due to the And predicted that 4,000 people would die as a result of radiation exposure in 2005.

According to Chernobyl Children International, 700,000 men, so-called liquidators, risked their lives and exposed themselves to dangerous radiation to contain the situation.

At least 40,000 of these men have died and another 70,000 are disabled, with 20 percent of those deaths being due to suicide.

The disaster sparked a humanitarian one Response in Ireland, where Adi Roche founded a charity to help the children affected by the nuclear disputes in Ukraine and Belarus.

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