Pripyat Hospital, as one might imagine, was by far the creepiest part of Pripyat. We walked passed dark room after dark room through a maze of hallways while drug vials and broken bottles cracked underneath our feet. Bottomless lift shafts and stairwells that descended into pitch black also added to the eerie atmosphere. It was not a pleasant place to be. According to some accounts, a group of the first contaminated firefighters from the night of the accident were brought here before being transported to hospitals in Moscow. Sadly, at least one of them never left here alive. Other people who have visited here have said that they felt like they were being watched while passing through the hallways and rooms in this building, while I didn’t feel the same thing as them, there was definitely an uneasy feeling while exploring. The lower floors were out of bounds, after the accident contaminated clothing and equipment that the firemen arrived with was dumped there and is still very radioactive to this day.
Above left: Approaching the hospital. Above Right: Inside the hospital the first thing we saw was the reception area.
One of the maternity rooms inside the hospital, It was dark in here and back in 2009 camera tripods were not allowed, so a flash had to be used.
Operating theaters made for some eerie moments, the rooms were robbed of anything valuable and trashed.
Above: The hospital chapel.
Above is health care building number 126 – the so-called hospital of Pripyat. In this building at 5 am April 26, 1986 brought the first firefighters to the Chernobyl NPP Unit 4 . Most of them died.. (Photo courtesy of Pripyat.com)
After the hospital we took a short walk over to the lake close by, water skiing, yachting and other recreational pursuits were enjoyed here. Below is the cafe at the top of the steps before you walk down to the water.
This water would come from the Pipyat river which is now blocked off to stop any radiation washing into the areas water supply, because of this, over 30 years later, water levels have risen and parts of the pier are now submerged. Hydrofoils used to dock here, bringing people from Mozyr and Kiev to the town.
The boathouse has come un-moored and has drifted down water towards the port.
Below is the area in the 80’s showing the pier, boathouse in the front and the cafe above with the hospital directly behind (Photo courtesy of Pripyat.com)
After spending some time exploring this area we headed over to the south western side of the city to visit Pripyat police station.
The entrance to Pripyat police station is slowly being hidden by trees.
Behind the police station are many abandoned vehicles which, like all other remnants here, have been robbed of anything valuable. These vehicles were used by a collection of military and volunteers known as liquidators. These liquidators were charged with clearing the zone of radiation contamination by washing and scrubbing all surfaces. Certain villages with high radiation levels such as Kopachi, less than 4km south of the reactor, were completely buried. All that remains is a monument and mounds of land with radioactive signs on poles warning passersby, it is also worth noting that the name ‘Kopachi’ means ‘gravedigger’ in Ukrainian.
Pripyat was completely washed down also using tanks and other machinery, effectively clearing the whole city of radioactive elements, which are now being absorbed into the soil and dropping at a rate of about 1cm per year. It is estimated that between 600,000 and 1,000,000 liquidators were involved in the Exclusion Zone clean process. Varying reports estimate that about 25,000 of them are now dead and another 70,000 are ill or suffering the effects of the radiation doses they received while on the cleaning up the area.
Before we left the area to head to the swimming pool I took one final look out back and something caught my eye in the distance. I looked again down a small road leading away from the station, a head popped up out of the bushes, had a quick look around the ducked back down again. A few seconds later that same person ran quickly across the road and out if sight. Not totally unexpected, there are legal and illegal ways to access the zone.
Below are a few shots from the swimming pool and sports hall complex.
Above, the swimming pool in the 80’s. Below, the pool in October 1996, 10 years after the accident.
In my next post I will be exploring the schools before moving on to the amusement park, as always please feel free to comment and share, be sure to come back soon.