One of the final stops on our tour was to the school in Pripyat. This was a shot that we all wanted to capture, its been taken hundreds of times before, but to actually see the number of gasmasks left here is astounding. There must have been around a thousand of these left on the floor of one of the classrooms on the ground floor, no doubt one for each of the children in the building. Whether or not these were used I don’t know, the accident happened in the middle of the night, and there was of course a cover up immediately afterwards with little information being sent out to the locals in the city.
I’m unsure of the age of the children in the school, but judging by the books I would guess that they were from about age seven up, that would mean that they are around thirty now maybe with children of a similar age, some may even have passed away from illness related to the accident.
Although predisposed with shooting the images as we didnt have too long to cover the whole school I did try to take a little time to think about its occupants, how they must have felt and what their thought may have been on the day in April 1986
There is a very moving set of pictures related to the survivors and children who have been born since 1986 by Magnum photographer Paul Fusco shot in 1997 /2000
The 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl stunned the world, releasing thousands of tons of radioactivity over an innocent population. Magnum photographer Paul Fusco revisits the affected region, searching for the accident’s enduring effects. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/chernobyl-legacy