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DONETSK, April 26 (ITAR-TASS) - The Ukrainian regions are observing the 25th grim anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl NPP. Thousands of people came to monuments, built in various cities, to honour the memory of their compatriots, who were mobilized on April 26, 1986, to liquidate consequences of the most horrible technogenous catastrophe in the history of humanity.
The Donbass (Donets Coal Basin) coal-mining area also paid a tribute of respect to the courage of the liquidators. Some 43,000 specialists, mostly miners and mine builders, were dispatched to the distress area from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. They worked for several months in the epicentre of the accident to build a foundation under the damaged reactor for the future sarcophagus. Some 7,000 liquidators from Donbass died before today's anniversary. "Those months will never be forgotten," Ivan Volchansky, head of the Lugansk branch of the Chernobyl Union, said at a mourning meeting outside the Chernobyl Crane monument. "Twenty five years have passed since the day of the tragedy, but people remember the courage and valour displayed by the liquidators during the fulfilment of the tasks set before them. Thousands of people were working that time to eliminate consequences of the accident. It is our duty to remember the heroes."
A mourning ceremony was held on Tuesday at the memorial complex to Chernobyl victims in the Youth Park of Kharkov. Vsevolod Filipp, consul-general of Russia in Kharkov, attended the ceremony together with top officials of the regional administration. "Chernobyl is our common tragedy, which has no dividing lines either on the land, or in our souls. Today we are paying a tribute of respect not only to the Chernobyl liquidators from Kharkov, but also to all those, who worked to save the present and the coming generations of people without thinking about themselves," the Russian diplomat said.
Workers of the Zaporozhye NPP, the largest in Europe, also honoured the memory of their colleagues. Hundreds of Chernobyl liquidators and former workers of the Chernobyl NPP, evacuated from the alienation zone, are now working at the Zaporozhye NPP. A mourning meeting was held outside a monument to Chernobyl liquidators in Dnepropetrovsk.
Participants in the mourning ceremonies paid a tribute of respect to the memory of all those who stood up to protect people against a nuclear threat, risking their own lives and health. According to various sources, from 600,000 to 800,000 people from all parts of the former USSR took part in the liquidation of consequences of the Chernobyl accident. Ukrainians accounted for 10 per cent of them. A total effluence of radioactive materials amounted to 50 million curies, which is equal to a possible explosion of 50 nuclear bombs, dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. An area of 50,000 square kilometres in 12 Ukrainian regions was contaminated. Some 250,000 people were evacuated from the distress area. At present there are 3.2 million people in the country, who were affected by the Chernobyl accident. According to the estimates of experts, the number of people, who may still die as a result of the Chernobyl accident, ranges from several thousand to 100,000.
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