Instagram post by @gerdludwig Gerd Ludwig

Maria and her husband had returned home to their village inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to live out their lives on a contaminated soil instead of dying of a broken heart in an anonymous city suburb.

It’s 40 roughly years ago that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant went first online, but it’s reactor #4 blew up in 1986 after operators botched a safety test. Of all manmade environmental catastrophes in human history, Chernobyl is considered to have caused the most lasting impact. Approximately 350,000 people were forced to evacuate after the explosion. But, disaster be damned, a couple of hundred elderly people have retuned. At first Ukrainian officials discouraged them, but they soon turned a blind eye, allowing them  to stay.  Recently, Ukraine’s minister of ecology announced that his country is talking to a multinational energy company about constructing a giant solar park inside the contaminated Exclusion Zone around the ill-fated reactor. Since my first visit in 1993, I have been documenting the aftermath of accident in dramatic photographs – the failed reactor, the contamination to the land, and the countless victims in the fallout regions, leading to my book and iPad app ‘The Long Shadow of Chernobyl’. @thephotosociety  @natgeocreative @natgeo #Chernobyl #Ukraine #returnee #radiation #contamination #disaster #nuclear #Exclusionzone

71 Comments

  • 19w ago creativeadventuremama creativeadventuremama

    😲

  • 19w ago sandramardene sandramardene

    @flaneurphoto Yes, I have the sane question about the long term health of these elders who returned to their homes.

  • 19w ago amirnaderi_music amirnaderi_music

    👍💖

  • 19w ago anathema2579 anathema2579

    Brilliant

  • 19w ago rebeccalbaker rebeccalbaker

    Being comfortable and at peace is everything. Trust in the Lord.❤️🙏

  • 19w ago teresajaimeg teresajaimeg

    Soy Mexicana y cada que veo una foto tuya me impresiona. Como logras retratar los sentimientos en tus fotografías. I love your pictures.

  • 19w ago susiemargaretwalsh susiemargaretwalsh

    interesting. have any doctors examined,taken blood samples?

  • 19w ago jadeebull jadeebull

    @kleesteele @jonoric @ranian02

  • 19w ago helenafortuitous helenafortuitous

    Thanks for sharing @gerdludwig It is so important that someone unbiased document the stories and the impact to people of this horrible explosion. So many people impacted and lost houses and livelihood in Ukraine and of course the worst lost their lives or gotten severe illness. The authorities has held back information and one can wonder if anyone have learned... will there be more openness going forward? The environmental impact from this disaster is still seen far away from Ukraine.

  • 19w ago claudia.m.sousa claudia.m.sousa

  • 19w ago slava.animado slava.animado

    It affected more than 350.000. I was born in 1984 and all of us got part of this. I can tell, health level sucks. Also I know many friends (we studied at the university together), who lived that area, after evacuation, half of their classmates died sooner or later in early age. It affects for decades or maybe even more.

  • 19w ago garden__gnome__ garden__gnome__

    God speed to these people.

  • 19w ago rijodavis004 rijodavis004

    👏👏

  • 19w ago mohalihad mohalihad

    Lovely ❤️

  • 19w ago cblacknyc cblacknyc

    beautiful portrait

  • 19w ago lisa_hood_ lisa_hood_

    I will purchase and read your book. Completely different to my usual read. Good luck in sales and keep doing what you do

  • 19w ago marvheuer marvheuer

    Always hope!

  • 19w ago constanceque constanceque

    Fascinating. I would like to visit the area. I imagine it's very emotional

  • 19w ago katerina.thornburgh katerina.thornburgh

    They must have faith in the lord...

  • 19w ago melanie_grout melanie_grout

    @chernobyl_ukriane

  • 19w ago acarter05 acarter05

    I will never forget that day. I was seven and I remember just praying for all those people!

  • 19w ago 5jixyuxjixyu5 5jixyuxjixyu5

    yes✨

  • 19w ago grandmomentos grandmomentos

    Love this photo

  • 19w ago nonkabonka nonkabonka

    My heart breaks for those poor people, displaced by the horrible tragedy, nothing but pain in that grandma’s eyes...

  • 19w ago neztradamus neztradamus

    @gerdludwig love this photo and all your others. when was this photo taken? where do/did they have to go to get the bread and other groceries? If you have a second, I’d be interested to know. always been curious about this region and the catastrophe that followed the initial disaster since it has been shutoff from most of the world. Thanks!

  • 19w ago mohamdabdolahii mohamdabdolahii

    Very beautiful photography is great. Thanks for visiting and viewing my photos

  • 19w ago ksenia_meneses ksenia_meneses

    My soul hurts

  • 19w ago jl_andrews jl_andrews

    When did people start returning? I know you said at first they were discouraged by Ukrainian officials, but I can’t tell when this photo was taken or when people began trying to go back.

  • 19w ago aishlinden aishlinden

    @naughty.morty hectic

  • 19w ago himen.1362 himen.1362

    ❤️

  • 19w ago nicolerenee16 nicolerenee16

    @l__tay so interesting

  • 19w ago playwelltogether playwelltogether

    like

  • 19w ago sandhia_r sandhia_r

    @keelan_naidoo

  • 19w ago mcgratharts mcgratharts

    What a story!

  • 19w ago dapperland dapperland

    ❤️👍🏻🙌🏼👏🏽👌🏾🤙🏿

  • 18w ago alexistv alexistv

    Cool!

  • 16w ago mariya_baiborodova mariya_baiborodova

    @dhabalsen "Frame or fiction,
    but what about prayer then?))

  • 16w ago karinapowpow karinapowpow

    😪

  • 2w ago gloriaq8667 gloriaq8667

    Impresionante

  • 2w ago elinabizadeh elinabizadeh

    ❤️

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