|Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which permanently poisoned swathes of eastern Europe and highlighted the shortcomings of the secretive Soviet system.|
On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the nuclear plant triggered a meltdown that spewed deadly clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing tens of thousands from their homes.
|More than half a million civilian and military personnel were drafted from across the former Soviet Union as so-called liquidators to clean-up and contain the nuclear fallout. Thirty-one plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, most from acute radiation sickness.|
Over the next three decades, thousands more have succumbed to radiation-related illnesses.
|The anniversary marks the imminent completion of a giant 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) steel-clad arch that will enclose the stricken reactor site and prevent further leaks.|
The project was funded with donations from more than 40 governments. The surrounding exclusion zone - 2,600 square km (1,000 square miles) of forest and marshland on the border of Ukraine and Belarus - will remain uninhabitable.