Pripyat is an abandoned city in the zone of alienation in northern Ukraine, Kiev Oblast, near the border with Belarus.
The city was founded in 1970 to house the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers, and was abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. Its population had been around 50,000 prior to the accident.
After the disaster of reactor no. 4, the city of Prypiat was evacuated in two days.
Only after radiation levels set off alarms at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant in Sweden did the Soviet Union admit that an accident had occurred, but authorities attempted to conceal the scale of the disaster. To evacuate the city of Pripyat, the following warning message was reported on local radio: "An accident has occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. One of the atomic reactors has been damaged. Aid will be given to those affected and a committee of government inquiry has been set up." This message gave the false impression that any damage and radiation was localized.
The government committee formed to investigate the accident, led by Valeri Legasov, arrived at Chernobyl in the evening of 26 April. By that time two people were dead and 52 were in hospital. During the night of 26 April / 27 April—more than 24 hours after the explosion—the committee, faced with ample evidence of extremely high levels of radiation and a number of cases of radiation exposure, had to acknowledge the destruction of the reactor and order the evacuation of the nearby city of Pripyat.
The evacuation began at 14:00, 27 April. To reduce baggage, the residents were told the evacuation would be temporary, lasting approximately three days. As a result, Pripyat still contains personal belongings. An exclusion zone of 30 km/19 mi remains in place today.