On the night of April 26, 1986, a reactor melted down at the Chernobyl power plant,
causing an explosion that released more than 400 times the radiation than the nuclear bomb detonated in Hiroshima.
More than 100,000 citizens were evacuated from the area,
after the Soviet Union tried to unsuccessfully cover up the disaster for several days.
See what people who were there at the time had to say about the destruction of the power plant,
and the aftermath of the most infamous nuclear accident in history.
Halina Chmulevych, who lives in a small Ukrainian village, says their food and water are still irradiated.
"We have milk and bake bread ourselves that, yes, is with radiation.
Everything here is with radiation. Of course it worries me, but what can I do?"
Valery Makarenko was the first Soviet TV journalist to report on the disaster, and had this to say,
"Chernobyl was a warning for the future.
It was not just a banal disaster, it was a message that nuclear power is not safe. It is time to think,
consider alternatives, and bring the industry under tight international control.
Otherwise, humankind will destroy itself."
Sergey Franchuk recalls how society fell apart in the aftermath near Chernobyl, recalling,
"Vodka became our money. We paid for petrol with vodka.
We paid for food with vodka.
Everyone was drunk all of the time."
Yuri Andreyev was an engineer working at Chernobyl in 1986.
After the reactor blew, he escaped, but came back to stop another reactor from failing.
"I absorbed a dose of radiation that should have killed me.
I thought afterwards that it would only be a matter of time before my family had to fend for themselves."
Konstantin Fedosenko was eight months old when the nuclear power plant blew.
He now brings dates back to the exclusion zone.
"Why am I going back? I like nature,
and Polesie State Radio-ecological reserve is a place where no human activity was performed for the past 30 years.
I also like silence, and that is exactly the place to get the most of it."
Ilya Bosakovsky used to work at the Chernobyl plant.
He was exposed to radiation, but didn't feel the effects of it until years later.
"I was really healthy when I started working at the plant.
But by the time I had finished, my health was shot to pieces.
I now understand that health is the main thing in life,"
Anastasia Fedosenko was a farmer near the disaster site,
and said the Soviets didn't tell them what was going on,
and didn't evacuate everyone until 13 days after the explosion.
"It was only on the third day that they said something had happened at the Chernobyl plant, but nobody knew what exactly.
They evacuated pregnant women and mothers with children under five.
The rest of us just continued our normal routine, feeding and milking cows."
Oleg Fedosenko worked on the Chernobyl cleanup crew in 1986.
According to him, they tried moving irradiated soil and covering it up elsewhere.
However, due to the wind, this just caused the radiation in the spoil to spread even further.
Former turbine operator at Chernobyl Sergey Akulinin spoke on the emotional toll of losing his family's home,
"I left in 1986, but this is still home to me. My boys came for the first time only recently.
My older son remembered the corner where he'd stand when he was naughty.
My younger son could remember only the wallpaper by his bed.
They never imagined that coming here would be so emotional."
Alexander Sirota was nine at the time of the tragedy,
and didn't understand the gravity of what had happened at first.
"For us, it was an exciting game. There were soldiers,
military helicopters and firefighters, and plenty of time off school.
When people I knew started to die around me, a proper understanding of what it was all about came to me."
Lyudmilla Ignatenko was pregnant at the time of the Chernobyl meltdown.
Her husband lay dying in a Moscow hospital from radiation poisoning.
Doctors warned her not to go near, but she hugged him before he passed.
Two months later, she went into labor, and her baby died hours after birth,
also suffering from radiation poisoning.
Hanna Zavorotnya was one of the 116,000 people that lived in Chernobyl.
When a 1,000 mile exclusion zone was set up, she and many others refused to leave their homes.
They feared starvation more than radiation, and told soldiers trying to vacate them,
"Shoot us and dig the grave, otherwise we're staying."
Sasha Yuvchenko was an engineer and mechanic who worked at the Chernobyl plant and lived through the explosion and subsequent radiation poisoning.
He explained what he witnessed,
"There was a heavy thud. A couple of seconds later,
I felt a wave come through the room.
The thick concrete walls were bent like rubber.
I thought war had broken out."
Sasha Yuvchenko continued, describing the surreal moments that followed.
"It was dark and there was a horrible hissing noise.
There was no ceiling, only sky - a sky full of stars. I remember thinking how beautiful it was.
You don't feel anything at the time. We had no idea there was so much radiation.
After about an hour, I started to vomit uncontrollably. My throat was very sore."