CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE – Ukrainians held candlelit vigils Tuesday to mark 30 years since the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl spewed radiation across Europe and left several thousand people dead or dying.
Church bells rang and mourners laid flowers at Chernobyl’s memorial square as the clock turned 1:23 a.m. — the moment the plant’s reactor number four exploded and changed the fate of a generation living across the former Soviet Union.
“There was crying and screaming,” local pensioner Maria Urupa told AFP as she recalled the terror that struck locals as they watched poisonous clouds of radiation waft in from the plant.
At least 30 people were killed on site and several thousand more are feared to have died from radiation in what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said appears to have been the world’s largest man-made catastrophe.
The exact number of dead remains a subject of intense debate because the Soviet authorities kept most of the information about the disaster hidden.
More than 200 tons of uranium remain inside the crippled reactor that spattered radiation across three quarters of Europe after a botched safety test.
Lingering fears of new leaks occurring should the aging structure covering the toxins crack have prompted a global push to fund the construction of a giant new arch that should keep the site safe for generations.
The U.N. watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency used the anniversary to warn against “complacency” in nuclear safety.
The “key lesson” from both Chernobyl and the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 was that “safety can never be taken for granted,” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said.
But Poroshenko said his country “will not be able to stop using atomic power” as it tries to wean itself off its energy dependence on its former master Russia.
Poroshenko also warned that Russia’s alleged support for a pro-Moscow insurgency in the east was threatening a repeat of the Chernobyl catastrophe — because Ukraine has its largest nuclear plant on the very edge of the war zone.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.