[ARROW] Evacuation
The morning after the explosion, there was no hint of a DISASTER. Children went to school and played outside. Gardeners worked on their plots outdoors and even weddings took place that Saturday night. Soviet officials appeared to hide the accident from the locals when they said, "...aren't you used to that? It was a steam discharge from the power plant [15]."

Lyubov' Kovalevskaya was in Pripyat the night of the accident. When she woke up late the next morning, her mother had reported strange sounds coming from the power station during the night. In an interview later published in June 1987, Kovalevskaya told of what she saw when she went outside that Saturday:

"All the roads were covered in water and some white liquid. Everything was white, foamy, all the curbs...I walked further and saw a policeman here, another there, I had never seen so many policemen in the town. They weren't doing anything, just sitting in various places, at the post office, the Palace of Culture. As if there was martial law. It was quite a shock. But people were walking about normally, there were children everywhere. It was very hot. People were going to the beach, to their country cottages, many people were already there, or sitting by the stream next to the cooling reservoir. That's an artificial water reservoir next to the nuclear power station...Anya, my daughter, had gone to school. I went home and said, 'Mama, I don't know what has happened, but don't let Natasha (my niece) out of the house, and when Anya returns from school, take her straight into the house'. But I didn't tell her to close the window...

I went back to the central square...The reactor was quite visible, one could see that it was burning and that its wall was broken. There were flames above the hole. That chimney between the third and fourth blocks was burning hot, it looked like a burni ng column...We knew nothing all day. Nobody said anything. Well, they said there was a fire. But about radiation, that radioactivity was escaping, there was not a word. Anya came back from school and said, 'Mama, we had physical exercise outside for a lmost a whole hour.' Insanity." [16]

Buses arrived in Pripyat midnight, the night after the explosion (Saturday night). They waited for the command to evacuate the city, spending the entire night in a state of alert. At noon the next day, radiation levels had dropped and the evacuation sti ll had not taken place. There was hope for improvement and perhaps no evacuation would be necessary. However, just two hours later, radiation levels had risen which was later described as its maximum. [17 ] Finally, after the residents of Pripyat and Yanov were needlessly exposed the radiation for 36 hours, the order to evacuate was in place. In only 3 hours, 1100 buses from nearby Kiev took the locals away [18]. The evacuees were told to pack enough clothing and other items for a three day evacuation, but they did not return back to their homes until much later. [1 9]

A 30 kilometer safety zone was established around the nuclear power station. Everyone within this zone was to be evacuated. These people were bused to areas only about 6 km away from the outer edge of the safety zone. However, such rural districts did not have the capacity for an extra 50,000 evacuees. [20]

Diagram-8 Map of Chernobyl and its surroundings showing the 30 km "Safety Zone"
 Map of Chernobyl and its surroundings showing the 30 km Safety Zone

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