Discuss as:

Marking the Chernobyl disaster 26 years later

Ivan Sekretarev / AP

Russian veteran fire fighters lay flowers at Mitino Memorial to commemorate those who died after the Chernobyl 1986 nuclear disaster, in Moscow on April 26. Russians marked the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which was the world's worst ever nuclear accident.

Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Men walk near a containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26. Belarus, Ukraine and Russia mark the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the world's worst civil nuclear accident, on Thursday.

Sergei Supinsky / AFP - Getty Images

Victims of Chernobyl nuclear accident's widows hold pictures of their late husbands during a memorial ceremony at the Chernobyl victims memorial in Kiev on April 26.

AP reports -- "The Chernobyl disaster underscored that mankind must be extra careful in using nuclear technologies," Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych said during a ceremony Thursday inaugurating the initial assembly of a gigantic arch-shaped steel containment building to cover the remnants of the exploded reactor. "Nuclear accidents lead to global consequences. They are not a problem of just one country, they affect the life of entire regions."

The April 26, 1986, explosion spewed a cloud of radiation over much of the northern hemisphere, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes in heavily hit areas of Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia. The Soviet government initially tried to hush up the explosion and resisted immediately evacuating nearby residents. It also failed to tell the public what happened or instruct residents and cleanup workers on how to protect themselves against radiation, which significantly increased the health damage from the disaster.

A shelter called the "sarcophagus" was hastily erected over the damaged reactor, but it has been crumbling and leaking radiation in recent years and a new confinement structure is necessary.

Yanukovych said 2 million people have been hurt by the tragedy and it was the state's obligation to protect and treat them.

But his reassurances fell flat with some Chernobyl cleanup workers and victims. About 2,000 protesters staged an angry rally Thursday outside parliament in Kiev, demanding an increase in compensations and pensions.

Read the full story.

Photojournalist documents Chernobyl aftermath for nearly two decades, then creates an iPad app to tell the story

Sergei Supinsky / AFP - Getty Images

A Chernobyl's handicapped person cries in front of the Chernobyl victims memorial in Kiev during a memorial ceremony on April 26. Ukraine launched today construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Andrew Kravchenko / EPA

The widow of a victim holds a child during a ceremony, commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Kiev, Ukraine, on April 26. On April 26, 1986 reactor number 4 blew apart at the Chernobyl power station. Facing nuclear disaster on an unprecedented scale Soviet authority tried to contain the situation by sending thousands of men into a radioactive area.