(Soundbite of tolling bell)
MELISSA BLOCK host:
Bells tolled across Ukraine today to mark the 20th anniversary of the world's nuclear accident. Early in the morning of April 26, 1986 a reactor blew up at the Chernobyl Power Plant in Ukraine, resulting in a massive fire. It sent a radioactive cloud across Europe and the Soviet Union. 31 people died as a direct result of the fires and from acute radiation poisoning as workers tried to keep those fires from spreading and thousands soon became ill from exposure to radiation.
Today in Chernobyl, hundreds of people came to attend a ceremony to commemorate the somber anniversary. They laid red carnations in memory of those who had died. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told the crowd there that they should look to the future, not to the past. He said that after 20 years of pain and fear, Chernobyl must not be a mourning place. He said it must become a place of hope.
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