Real-life characters in HBO's 'Chernobyl' on the moment they found out about the world's worst nuclear power plant accident
- HBO's "Chernobyl" series tells the story of the world's worst nuclear power plant accident, which took place near the city of Pripyat (once part of the Soviet Union).
- Most of the characters who appear in the show existed in real life - and a few have been willing to share their stories.
- We've rounded up actual accounts of the moment when disaster struck on April 26, 1986.
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HBO's "Chernobyl" series paints a fairly accurate portrait of the 1986 nuclear disaster, which sent plumes of radioactive material coursing through Pripyat, a city that was once part of the Soviet Union.
As the series shows, the disaster was the result of a flawed design and human error, which caused the core of a nuclear reactor to open into the atmosphere.
With a few exceptions, most of the characters in the series were involved in the real-life accident. Some lived to tell their tales, while others did not.
A few of those who survived were willing to recall the moment when they either found out about the explosion or witnessed it with their own eyes. Here are their firsthand accounts, told in the years since.
Chernobyl's chief scientific investigator said the disaster took place on a "beautiful" Saturday.
Legasov said the news was delivered calmly.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was reportedly woken up by a phone call.
Gorbachev said he didn't initially understand the scope of the accident.
Lyudmilla Ignatenko learned of the disaster when her husband, a firefighter, was called to the power plant.
Lyudmilla said the flames were "radiant."
Chernobyl's liquidators, soldiers, and police officers weren't told where they were going until they got to the train station.
One emergency responder said the disaster was "scary but also exiting."
A mechanical engineer, Alexander Yuvchenko, was in his office when the core opened.
"It was very beautiful," Yuvchenko said of the ionized air.
Radiation monitor Nikolai Gorbachenko likened the explosion to "a horror film."
He survived the incident, but the colleague he tried to rescue died.
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