Pripyat, near Chernobyl, after the disaster

For those who have seen it, Pripyat is a place of silence, devoid of life. The only movement that suggests human habitation is the flutter of laundry on clotheslines. But the laundry has been there, day and night, since April 27. On that day, most of the town's 40,000 citizens hastily collected a few belongings and piled into buses that evacuated them from the vicinity of the shattered Chernobyl nuclear reactor only half a mile away. They did not know then, and do not know now, whether they will return home in months or years. Or ever. On this and the...

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