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Pripyat: The city where time stands still

PRIPYAT, Ukraine (CNN) -- The dead city of Pripyat is one lasting legacy of Chernobyl that will forever be a symbol of the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster.

Pripyat was once home to 45,000 people before it became enveloped in radioactive dust.

It is now a ghost town situated in the shadow of the power plant, encircled by barbed wire fencing. No one will ever be allowed to live there again.

Radiation levels are considered too dangerous for all but the briefest of visits.

CNN's Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty took a drive around the city and described it as "absolutely the most eerie experience of my life."

She said: "I could see all these houses literally rotting. They had windows broken out and I could hear the sound of dripping water coming through the ceilings.

"The sidewalks have been taken over by moss and brushwood. Nature is reclaiming the town.

"In the centre of the town there is a large ferris wheel looming over the area. It looks as if it has stopped mid-ride.

"In a children's playground there is a metal sculpture that looks like a rocket. It is abandoned and rusting.

"It is completely quiet -- it is the most eerie experience I have encountered."

She said that though it is safe to be in the open air in Pripyat, it is inside the houses that the danger lies.

"It is the dust that has settled that is highly radioactive," she added. "That is why no one will ever be allowed to live there again."

Despite the passing of fourteen years, nothing is safe in the city and environmental scientists say that even in 150 years time the place will still not be safe to live in.

Most of the former residents have been resettled in the new town of Slavutich, about one hour's journey away.

They took the brunt of the fallout, being exposed for 36 hours before evacuation began.

It is not known how many of the 8,000 people who died from the radioactive fallout lived in Pripyat.



RELATED STORY:
Chernobyl powers down permanently
December 15, 2000

RELATED SITES:
A Voice from Dead Pripyat
Pripyat Photos 1

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