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30 years on, Chernobyl worker remembers the aftermath via The Sun Daily

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Threat of another blast

Magala was one of the very first of some 600,000 people who became known as “liquidators” — mostly soldiers, police, firefighters and state employees — dispatched by Moscow over the next few years to try to clean up the fall-out.

“There was no protective gear — that all came later,” Magala said. “There was just a sense of duty.”

For those working at the site in the immediate aftermath of the disaster there were more pressing concerns.

Experts worried that radioactive material could leak into a safety pool under the reactor and cause a second, more powerful explosion that would threaten the millions of people living in Kiev, some 100 kilometres to the south.

That May, Magala and 10 other volunteers were handed the task of using special equipment to drill through the two-metre thick wall of the safety pool to check.

After working for four days the team were relieved to find that their worst fears were unfounded.

“When we cut the hole through it turned out that it was all quiet, peaceful and calm there,” Magala said.

“We did not need to evacuate Kiev.”

‘Dying like flies’

Thirty years later, Magala walks with a stick but says he has not suffered serious health problems from the aftermath of Chernobyl.

That, he concedes, makes him one of the lucky ones.

“People that we called ‘partisans’ arrived — kids who were mobilised by the army. They gave them a helmet and a lead apron,” Magala said.

“Five year later these soldiers began dying like flies.”

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