Lost tapes show Chernobyl babies glowing green and men with horror scars

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The 1986 Chernobyl disaster is considered the worst nuclear accident in history – but new evidence reveals that the damage was far greater than previously thought.

A new Sky TV documentary, Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes, exposes the grim injuries sustained by emergency workers and horrifying birth defects caused by radiation from the explosion at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,

According to official figures two employees were killed in the initial explosion, and a further 28 died from acute radiation poisoning.

READ MORE: 'Suicidal' Russian troops disturb radioactive dust in Chernobyl 'red forest'

But many more people are believed to have died from the direct effects of the disaster, with some estimates putting the death toll as high as 985,000 .

The number of birth defects cause by the plume of radioactive fallout that extended as far as Wales cannot be calculated.

Babies with patches of 'glowing' green skin are shown in the footage obtained by Sky, along with many more dying of untreatable cancers that before the Chernobyl accident were considered incredibly rare.

The documentary also recounts tales of incredible heroism from the rescue workers sent to deal with the initial explosion and fire.

Many of them were sent into the burning reactor building with little or no protective gear and many of them were left with horrifying scars as a result.

Firefighter Leonid Shavrey told how his younger brother Petr was off-duty when the alert went out.

Petr had no time to stop and pick up any equipment: “Protection didn't matter but time was of the essence to stop the flames spreading,” Leonid said.

Petr helped guide fire trucks around the site, moving obstacles out of the way as he went.

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At one point Petr picked up a small metal object that was blocking a road and the skin on his palms peeled away.

Leonid says it wasn’t safe to use water on the fire because of the danger from exposed electricity cables, and so instead they fought the fire by throwing sand on it and beating at the flames with their canvas hoses.

He says the conditions were impossible: “With the slightest increase in temperature, the bitumen immediately caught fire. If you stepped on it, you couldn't put one foot in front of the other — it tore off your boots”.

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Deadly radioactive isotopes such as caesium-137, iodine-131 and strontium-90 into the air.Some 600 Soviet pilots risked dangerously high levels of radiation to fly thousands of flights over reactor No. 4 in a bid to seal off the source of the radioactive cloud.

Shocking footage of one Mi-8 'copter crashing into the burning reactor only emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and high resolution video of the incident is shown in the documentary for the first time.

The Ukrainian government still pays benefits to tens of thousands of dependents of the men who died as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.

In the past few months, Russian troops again occupied the decommissioned reactor site, their heavy equipment churning up the still-radioactive soil of the so-called “Red Forest”.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds of them, were hospitalised due to exposure to the radioactive dirt and dust of Chernobyl.

36 years on, the disaster’s grim death toll continues to rise.

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