An estimated 125,000 people in Ukraine have died because of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and disease rates have soared, the health minister said Tuesday.
The accident occurred nine years ago today.
Children, pregnant women and Chernobyl rescue workers are particularly prone to diseases caused by radiation from the nuclear blast, said Health Minister Andrei Serdyuk.
An explosion in Chernobyl’s No. 4 reactor on April 26, 1986, released an immense cloud of radiation north of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Two million people were infected, and more than 125,000 have died because of Chernobyl-related illnesses, Serdyuk said.
Disease rates in some regions are three times higher for children than before the accident, and four to five times higher for pregnant women.