Ukraine marks 26th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster

Ukraine Chernobyl

Ukrainians hold candles commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Kiev, Ukraine,Thursday, April 26, 2012. Ukraine marke

Ukraine marked the 26th anniversary since the Chernobyl power station exploded on April 26, 1986, resulting in the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

The explosion led to a fire that burned for 10 days, forcing some 300,000 people from their homes. It released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Europe.

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that the number of excess cancer deaths due to radiation from the accident will be near 25,000. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates 16,000 cancer deaths in Europe through 2065 due to Chernobyl, the Huffington Post said.

Ukrainians carried candles to the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the accident site during a memorial ceremony in the early morning.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is working to move forward the construction of a gigantic arch-shaped shelter to cover the dead reactor to replace the current unstable concrete shell holding 200 tons of highly radioactive material.

When completed in 2015, the delicate and dangerous job of dismantling the reactor and cleaning vast amounts of radioactive waste can begin.