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Petro | by Emmanuel Smague
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Petro

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Zvizdal: a village of 300 until 1989, located 30 miles west of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The inhabitants were evacuated from the area three whole years after the catastrophe.

 

Petro, 80, and Nadia, 84.

All the inhabitants of Zvizdal could not get another house after the evacuation. Some families were hence "condemned" to stay back in the village. All of those who have stayed behind have died since, except for this couple. Meeting them was somewhat surreal.

Petro and Nadia live among the ruins. Their house is the only one intact, the others were pillaged by looters. They grow vegetables in the highly-contaminated soil but they remain very attached to their roots, their ground. As we are about to part, Nadia confides in me: "I'd like to die, but I don't know how..."

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Taken on June 18, 2009