Anyone who lived through 1986 likely remembers the Chernobyl incident: A devastating nuclear explosion and meltdown that traumatized the world.
Now Chernobyl is back in the news, for another troubling reason. On March 11, Ukraine claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "ordered the preparation of a terrorist attack" on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The main electric supply to the plant was cut off earlier that week, with Ukrainian authorities blaming Russia's invading forces for the blackout and warning that it could lead to "nuclear discharge."
Here's what we know about the Chernobyl site today ... as well as chilling archival photos showing what it was really like to live through the disaster in 1986.
Worst nuclear disaster of the 20th century
Since 1986, the radioactive site has remained frozen in time, and off limits to the public, after a reactor at the plant exploded. The resulting fallout spurred a crisis for the people of the nearby city of Pripyat, Ukraine — and for those living miles and miles away.
Today, a protective shelter covers the fallen reactor to prevent radiation from leaking. But that hasn't soothed any nerves among nuclear analysts and officials.
Worries over Chernobyl
Here's a 2021 view of the shelter construction covering the exploded reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.
More than three decades earlier, it was the site of history's worst nuclear disaster.
Disturbing view from the sky
A satellite image with overlaid graphics shows military vehicles alongside the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
The picture was taken February 25, 2022 — just over a day after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
Before the accident
Here's how the real control desk of the Chernobyl plant looked on April 18, 1986, just days before the disaster.
A 2019 HBO drama reproduced the uniforms and machinery in detail.
After the explosion
Here's an aerial shot taken after the explosion, while the facility was still burning.
It burned for roughly 10 days.
Here are two brave photographers who took the first pictures of the Chernobyl disaster from a helicopter in April 1986.
A few days later
Here's another helicopter shot, this one taken a few days after the catastrophe.
The site has since been domed by a protective cover.
Soviet television showed, on April 30, 1986, this picture of the Chernobyl plant on which a half-destroyed building could be seen.
However, the media insisted there had been "no destruction, nor gigantic fires nor thousands of casualties."
This undated picture, sent by Soviet television, show a man injured in the blast of No. 4 reactor of Ukrainian Chernobyl nuclear plant.
Yura Kudriakse, 12, a victim of the nuclear disaster, waits for his turn to receive psychiatric treatment at the Tarara Children Hospital in Havana, Cuba, in December 1986.
He was one of several hundred contaminated Russian and Ukrainian children who got free physical and psychiatric treatment in Cuba as part of a humanitarian effort.
By Octobor 1986, the No. 4 reactor, the crux of the disaster, was emtombed as a part of an ongoing cleanup and security effort.
The dome can be seen in earlier photos in this gallery.
In October 1989, a local woman holds up a disabled newborn pig, victim of the radioactive fallout.
A sign advertises vegetables as free of contamination in a market in May 1986.
"Oh God, it rains," reads the graffiti above the symbol for radioactivity on the wall of a house near Frankfurt, Germany, in May 1986. Ground-level radioactivity from nuclear fallout after the Soviet nuclear disaster in rose significantly after weekend rains.
A nurse at a children's health clinic in Warsaw administers an iodine solution to a 3-year-old girl held in her mother's arms in Poland in May 1986. Protective measures were taken for possible radiation poisoning from the Soviet nuclear accident.
Soviet refugees are checked for radioactivity at a Vienna airport on April 30, 1986.
These are the front pages of four British morning newspapers reflecting the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
All the way to Sweden
A Swedish farmer wearing anti-atomic gear shifts fodder contaminated by the radioactive cloud of Chernobyl in June 1986.
The evacuation of 47,000 inhabitants of Pripyat, in 1,200 buses and 200 trucks, only took a few hours. Locals believed they would be returning several days later. Instead, it became a ghost town.
A worker wearing a protective overalls and mask works with boxes of contaminated vegetables on the landfill in Berlin in May 1986. These vegetables were banned by local authorities.
Firefighters in protective suits clean cars at the German border in May 1986. The cars were coming from Poland and were largely contaminated.
Oxana Gaibon (right), 17, and Alla Kozimierka, 15, both victims of the disaster, receive infrared radiation treatment in Cuba in December 1986.
U.S. tourists tested
Kathleen McIntyre of the Brookhaven National Laboratory Radiology assistance program demonstrates the use of a thyroid gland tester for radiation on a tourist who returned from the Soviet Union in New York in May 1986. Thirty-one New Yorkers who came within 80 miles of the Soviet nuclear accident returned home three days early.
Roswitha Frieser, who had a stall in the Frankfurt market for 25 years before the disaster, holds up a poster that reads "The atoms have destroyed us," in May 1986.
Marina Pappas, left, and Chrisa Livanos, both mothers of students who returned from Kiev, hold up T-shirts reading "Kiev Was A Blast 1986" at Kennedy International Airport in New York in May 1986. Twenty high school students and 11 adults from Long Island, who came within 80 miles of the Soviet nuclear accident, returned home three days early.
Pripyat in 2017
The residents of Pripyat never returned to their homes, businesses, pets.
Here are some abandoned hotel rooms in the now-ghost town in 2017. Today tourists often visit the town on specially-organized tours from Kiev.
30 years on
Rusting equipment lies among peeling walls in a room at the abandoned city hospital on September 30, 2015 in Pripyat, Ukraine.
Pripyat lies only a few kilometers from the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and was built in the 1970s to house the plant's workers and their families.
Today Pripyat is a ghost-town, its apartment buildings, shops, restaurants, hospital, schools, cultural center and sports facilities derelict and its streets overgrown with trees.
The city lies in the inner exclusion zone around Chernobyl.
Frozen in time
A rusting crib containing a baby doll and blanket sits in the Pripyat hospital maternity ward, decades after the disaster.
Hot spots of persistently high levels of radiation make this area uninhabitable for thousands of years to come.
A doll and shoes lay on a bench in a nursery school in Pripyat in April 2016, 30 years after the disaster.
Chernobyl, Nearly 30 Years Since Catastrophe
A schoolbook lies on a pupil's desk next to a Cold War-era gas mask in a classroom of abandoned School Number 3.
A Ferris wheel is still there
An abandoned Ferris wheel stands on a public space overgrown with trees in the former city center.
Schoolbooks lie on shelves in a classroom next to the door to a hallway of abandoned School Number 3.
Tourists. Yep, really.
Tourists photograph one another on the remains of a merry-go-round in the ghost town of Pripyat. Today tourists often visit the town on specially-organized tours from Kiev.
Today, a partially constructed and abandoned cooling tower stands at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
A doll, likely arranged by a tourist, dressed with a gas mask, sits on a chair among and old television and hundreds of gas masks lying on the floor of abandoned School Number 3.
Relatives of Konstantin Perchuk, a fireman who died as a result of the explosion, cry over his grave in 1993 at Mitino Cemetery in Moscow.
This shot was taken in Pripyat in 2017. It shows a Geiger counter reading 679,000 counts per minute near a metal claw contaminated with radioactivity.
The New Safe Confinement sarcophagus covers the destroyed reactor on November 29, 2016.
A woman drinks coffee while standing by a gift shop at the checkpoint of the Chernobyl exclusion zone during tourist tour on April 23, 2018.
The fate of the animals
A volunteer of Clean Futures Fund feeds a stray dog outside an improvised animal hospital near the Chernobyl power plant on June 8, 2018.
People picnic near a cemetery in the village of Orevichi, inside the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, on April 17, 2018.
Suited up for safety
Visitors walk next to the new dome over the fourth block of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Chernobyl on October 5, 2018.
The photo was taken ahead of the official opening ceremony of a new one-megawatt power plant.
A sad alley
In April 2018, tourists walk in a symbolic alley with signs bearing names of villages and cities evacuated following the Chernobyl disaster.
A woman in a Ukrainian folk costume lays flowers to the Chernobyl victims monument in the capital city of Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 26, 2021.
That date marked the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.