In pics: Multiple forest fires erupt near Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, say reports

Updated: Mar 23, 2022, 01:10 PM(IST)

Forest fires have erupted near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Ukrainian media reported citing an official statement. 

Disclaimer: A number of claims and counterclaims are being made on the Ukraine-Russia conflict on the ground and online. While WION takes utmost care to accurately report this developing news story, we cannot independently verify the authenticity of all statements, photos and videos.

Forest fires near Chernobyl nuclear reactor

Amid the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict, forest fires have erupted near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Ukrainian media reported citing an official statement.


Satellite images

As per the reports, at least seven fires have been spotted within Chernobyl's exclusion zone.

According to a statement by Ukraine's parliament, the satellite imagery has been provided by the European Space Agency. 

Here's the satellite image:


The statement read: "Probably the fire was caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, namely the shelling or arson. For the same reasons and taking into account the work in martial law, the ASKRS points cannot perform their functions in full, as well as the staff of SSE "Ecocenter"."

"According to the Classification of Emergencies, the criteria for fire in the Exclusion Zone should not exceed 0.05-0.2 sq. Km, but the current state of the area of ​​fires exceeds these indicators ten times," it added. 


Forest fires pose risk

Important to note that forest fires are common in the spring and summer in the abandoned zone around the Chernobyl plant as The New York Times reported that the radiation levels are considerably lower than they were immediately after the 1986 accident but still pose risks. 


Source of fires unknown

Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian news outlet, reported, citing a statement issued by parliament. The statement said the source of the fires was most likely artillery shelling or arson. There was no way to independently confirm the report.


Russian troops seized the Chernobyl compound

On February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, Moscow's troops seized the Chernobyl compound, the site of the 1986 core meltdown that sparked the worst nuclear reactor catastrophe in history.  

It is unclear why Russian soldiers seized Chernobyl, where the destroyed reactor is kept under close supervision within a concrete and lead sarcophagus, and the three other reactors are being decommissioned. 

In 2017, the site was one of several Ukrainian targets hit by a massive cyberattack thought to have originated in Russia, which briefly took its radiation monitoring system off-line. 


Chernobyl staff

Ukrainian staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are finally allowed leave for the first time since the site of the 1986 nuclear meltdown was taken over by Russian forces at the start of the invasion. 

Ukraine says around half of the staff were able to return home on Sunday.


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