BISHKEK -- A memorial service dedicated to Chernobyl victims took place in Bishkek Friday (April 26), marking the 33rd anniversary of the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine in 1986, 24.kg reported.
The accident, which included a steam explosion and fires, led to the deaths of 30 power station workers and firefighters within three months, according to the World Nuclear Association. It created worldwide mistrust of Soviet use of nuclear power.
Even now, Central Asia is seeking international help to clean up old Soviet uranium mines and tailing dumps for which Russia has not taken responsibility.
Local officials, schoolchildren, the Ukrainian ambassador and a counsellor from the Belarusian embassy attended the memorial service. It included a flower laying at the Bishkek monument to Chernobyl victims, a minute of silence and a rifle salute.
"Thirty-three years ago, hundreds of thousands of people from all the republics of the Soviet Union set about eliminating the consequences [of the accident]," Bishkek Vice Mayor Tatyana Kuznetsova said at the ceremony Friday. "It's hard to imagine what would have happened had there been no courageous people who extinguished the fire at the cost of their lives."
According to her, more than 260 Chernobyl clean-up workers live in Bishkek. Some of them joined the event with their children and grandchildren.
"I received a summons from the military, and we were taken to Chernobyl," recalled Asad Joroyev, one of the clean-up workers. "We didn't know a thing; everything was secret. First, others cleaned up the area affected, and then we were sent to the zone. We cleared the debris and cleaned up the area. All in all, I spent two months there."