There is something truly macabre about visiting this town, which was decimated after a nuclear power plant in nearby Chernobyl exploded in 1986. The catastrophe blasted the area with 400 times the radiation of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Prypyat and other villages nearby, which mostly housed nuclear plant workers, were evacuated the day after the explosion, and none of the 50,000 residents ever returned. Today, toys still lie where they were dropped by children in a hurry to leave, the Ferris wheel on the fairground, now rusting, still stands, and beds in the hospital are stripped bare. Meanwhile, the broken nuclear reactor is sleeping under a gigantic concrete dome, hopefully not leaking.
Not surprisingly, there have been reports that the town is haunted. In 1997, a visiting nuclear physicist said she heard someone screaming to be rescued from inside a power station. And that’s not all: “Later that evening,” she reported, “as we were eating dinner outside the building by the river next to the plant, a flood light turned on in the room of the installation. There was no way anyone could be inside. As we ate, we figured there was a power surge or something. Then just as my colleague said that, the light turned off.”
The town today attracts visitors in the tens of thousands coming on day trips from Kiev, some 62 miles south.