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Photographers recall Chernobyl's first days

AP published a fascinating story about the photographers who were allowed to photograph the Chernobyl disaster in its early days. Talk about a dangerous job.

Volodymyr Repik / AP

In this 1986 photo shows the sarcophagus under construction over the 4th destroyed reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On May 12, 1986, more than two weeks after the explosion, the leading Soviet daily newspaper Pravda published its first photograph from the site for the first time, shot three days earlier from a helicopter by Repik. "If I had been ordered now to get aboard and go, I would not have gone — you might have easily died there for nothing," said the 65-year-old Repik.

Volodymyr Repik / AP

In this 1986 photo, a helicopter throwing chemicals to suppress radiation approaches the 4th destroyed reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in. On May 12, 1986, more than two weeks after the explosion, the leading Soviet daily newspaper Pravda published its first photograph from the site for the first time, shot three days earlier from a helicopter by Repik.

AP

This 1986 photo, shows photographer Volodymyr Repik inside a helicopter as he covers the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. On May 12, 1986, more than two weeks after the explosion, the leading Soviet daily newspaper Pravda published its first photograph from the site for the first time, shot three days earlier from a helicopter by Repik. "If I had been ordered now to get aboard and go, I would not have gone — you might have easily died there for nothing," said the 65-year-old Repik.

Volodymyr Repik / AP

In this 1986 photo, a Chernobyl nuclear power plant worker holding a dosimeter to measure radiation level is seen against the background of a sarcophagus under construction over the 4th destroyed reactor on this file photo taken in 1986. On May 12, 1986, more than two weeks after the explosion, the leading Soviet daily newspaper Pravda published its first photograph from the site for the first time, shot three days earlier from a helicopter by Repik. "If I had been ordered now to get aboard and go, I would not have gone — you might have easily died there for nothing," said the 65-year-old Repik.

AP

This 1986 photo shows photographers Volodymyr Repik, right, and Valery Zufarov in Chernobyl area after the explosion in the 4th reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On May 12, 1986, more than two weeks after the explosion, the leading Soviet daily newspaper Pravda published its first photograph from the site for the first time, shot three days earlier from a helicopter by Repik."If I had been ordered now to get aboard and go, I would not have gone — you might have easily died there for nothing," said the 65-year-old Repik. Zufarov died in 1993, aged 52, of Chernobyl-related disease. His first pictures were made from a helicopter 25 meters above the plant.

AP

This 1986 photo shows photographer Igor Kostin taking photographs after the explosion in the 4th reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Wearing a lead protective suit and placing his cameras in lead boxes, photographer Igor Kostin made a terrifying and unauthorized trip to the Chernobyl danger zone just a few days after a nuclear power plant reactor exploded in the world's worst atomic accident. He came back home with nothing to show for his determination to document the crisis — the radiation was so high that all his shots turned out black.

Efrem Lukatsky / AP

In this April 4, 2011 photo taken at his home in Kiev, Ukraine, photographer Igor Kostin shows a photograph taken in the first days after the explosion of the 4th reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The photo shows cleanup operations on the roof of the neighboring 3rd reactor. Wearing a lead protective suit and placing his cameras in lead boxes, photographer Igor Kostin made a terrifying and unauthorized trip to the Chernobyl danger zone just a few days after a nuclear power plant reactor exploded in the world's worst atomic accident. He came back home with nothing to show for his determination to document the crisis — the radiation was so high that all his shots turned out black.

AP

Chernobyl nuclear power plant photographer Anatoly Rasskazov two months before the April 26, 1986 explosion. Anatoly Rasskazov was the first photographer to take photographs of the Chernobyl disaster. As a staff photographer for the plant, he was allowed in on the day of the explosion. On April 26, at noon — hours after the blast — he made a video of the destroyed reactor and submitted it to a special commission working in a bunker close to the plant, said Anna Korolevska, deputy director of Chernobyl museum in Kiev. Rasskazov died last year, aged 66, after suffering for years from cancer and blood diseases that he blamed on the radiation.