They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 1.

The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter

One of the first footage of the Chernobyl Miniseries produced by HBO is set from outside the dormitory for firefighters in the town of Pripyat, Ukraine.

1:23:45 on April 26, 1986, Vasily Ignatenko was awakened by an explosion, followed by a tremor equivalent to an earthquake of 2.5 on the Richter scale.

"Lyudmilla", he called his newlywed wife.

They are living the happiest and happiest days of life. Vasily was only 25 years old and Lyudmilla was 22. He always held her hand no matter where, when walking or going to the supermarket. And she will occasionally come to Vasily's ear and say "I love you"People often see couples kissing, they come across and smile and bless.

Vasily cared about Lyudmilla like a child. Every time he went to work, he never forgot to fix her hat and scarf, fearing she was cold at home.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 2.

Like any woman in this world who received such protection, Lyudmilla always felt happy. Above all, it was a sense of security to be with Vasily, there was nothing wrong with him here.


Lyudmilla had even woken up before Vasily, that night she was nauseous, perhaps pregnant with his first child. Vasily still sleeps. He set the alarm early at 4 am. Tomorrow the couple plans to go home to their parents in Sperizhye, a Belarusian village, only 40 km away from Pripyat.

They planned to grow potatoes together, Vasily liked plowing and seeding life. But I know maybe I'll have to put that plan back.

Looking outside the window, Vasily and Lyudmilla saw the Chernobyl nuclear power plant burning. There was a high pillar of fire illuminating the sky, its color was very strange. "Close the window and go back to bed. There is fire in the reactor. I'll be back soon"Vasily told his wife after receiving the general mobilization order to Chernobyl.

They announced the fire on the roof of the factory, guessing that someone illuminated the headlight against the sky, causing the column of fire to bring strange colors. No one told the firefighters that it was a radioactive fire, that the reactor core had exploded.

Anyone who arrives in Chernobyl will probably have to receive a dose of radiation up to 1,600 rem – 400 is enough to kill.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 3.

1:30 am, only 7 minutes after the explosion, firefighters were at Chernobyl. In front of them is a ruined landscape. A large fire enveloped the No. 4 reactor, its roof blown away, an escape from it was a smoke rising.

The walls of the building were still trembling after the explosion, merging with it was the sound of steam, crackling fire. Under the ground, broken glass, concrete and metal fragments scattered everywhere. Scattered in there are graphite blocks still hot red.

"Hey, what is this?", one of the soldiers asked." That is the reactor intestine, "responded.If we live until tomorrow morning, we will become immortal. "

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 4.

Soldiers, no one wearing radio protective gear, kicked pieces of ground graphite with their feet, which once covered the uranium core in the RBMK reactor.

In the darkness around are hundreds of lethal ionizing radiation sources: graphite lumps, pieces of fuel assemblies and uranium dioxide pellets of the reactor that continuously emit invisible gamma rays reaching the threshold thousand roentgen per hour.

One of the most haunting footage of the first episode of the Chernobyl series returns to Misha, a colleague of Vasily holding a piece of graphite on his hand. Soon after, his whole hand blistered because of the burn.

Feeling something unfortunate between the moment his comrades screamed in pain, Vasily received an order to pull the hose forward to the roof to crush the fire just above the reactor.

For soldiers, only the visible flame in front of them is the most feared. The wind is blowing from the west, and if they do not quickly the fire will spread to both reactors 1 and 2 are still running.

After a moment of hesitation, Vasily took the faucet and entered the death zone.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 5.

Vasily was born in Sperizhye, a village of Belarus just 40 km from Pripyat. His parents are farmers. They did not want their son to go to the city, so he built him a house in the countryside.

But then Vasily went to military service, he served on the fire brigade in Moscow. After demobilizing, he wanted to be a real firefighter. Along with a wave of young people flocking to the atomic town of Pripyat, Vasily wears sergeant function and serves at the fire station 6.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 6.

Lyudmilla went there from Ivano-Frankivsk, a city on the banks of the Dniester in southwestern Ukraine. The girl learned to cook at Burshta Culinary School and was sent to Chernobyl after graduating from the excellent class. At 17, Lyudmilla worked as a chef in the factory.

Vasily met Lyudmilla for the first time when she visited a fellow dorm student. The smart and witty firefighter immediately went into the kitchen to talk to the girl who was cooking for them. The two talked about many things, until Lyudmilla asked: "How do you think people like Tryndychiha?".

"You see, Tryndychiha is not worthy of being my husband"Vasily looked at the girl with charming eyes and a smile. That night, he took her home and they started dating.

After about 3 years of love, Vasily and Lyudmilla got married. They moved to live in the firefighter dormitory. There are 5 young couples living together here, they share a cozy kitchen.

From the room window of Vasily and Lyudmilla, they could see the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. For a young couple in the Soviet Union at the time, it was a pride.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 7.

The zigzag road up the roof of the reactor was lined up by collapsed concrete piles. Vasily and her comrades pulled the water taps to the roof of the Number 3 reactor. At an eight-storey height, they could look straight at the ruins of the next No. 4 reactor.

Soldiers now have access to the surrounding fires, the roof, the chimneys, the third hall and the top of the turbine. Many large and small fires erupted violently, some with a flame as high as 1.5 m, others smaller but strangely shining. The air was filled with black smoke, and there was something else that tasted like metal.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 8.

After the hose was opened, firefighters pumped out more water every time they were trained. But the fires seemed to have been burned by something even more brutal: uranium cores heated up to 4,000 degrees, they caught fire when exposed to air after the explosion, met with water to release oxygen, hydrogen and steam. radiation.


At 5:00 am, the soldiers finally controlled all the visible flames at Chernobyl. Only a single column of smoke from the graphite fire remained smoldering inside the reactor core 4.

In return, all the soldiers were exposed to heavy radiation. They feel dizzy, headache, some vomiting. Some people's faces are purple, while others are white without any life.

A group of soldiers came down from the stairs continuously vomiting. Vasily pulled two of his teammates out of the area as soon as the fire went out. After that, all three were unconscious. They were taken to the hospital.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 9.

Radiation is present all around us, from sunlight to cosmic rays. When you take an airplane or stand on the top of a mountain, the level of radiation exposure that your body suffers will be higher than that of a person standing on the coast.

Sediments also contain radioactive materials, which are used to make granite and bricks. Therefore, your house at this time also emits a bit of radiation.

Even living tissue is radioactive to some extent: A banana, even the human body contains a small amount of potassium 40. The male body contains more potassium than women, so they are more emancipated stronger radiation.

Radiation is invisible, odorless and tasteless. There is no certain threshold in which exposure to radiation is considered safe. But radiation rays will become a clear danger, if the particles and waves emitted are strong enough to change or break atoms that form living organisms tissue.

These high-energy radiation is called ionizing radiation.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 10.

Ionizing radiation has three main types: alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays. The alpha particles are relatively large, heavy and move slowly, so they cannot penetrate the skin; Even a piece of paper can block them properly.

But if alpha particles find a way to get inside the body through other routes, such as swallowing or inhaling alpha particles, can cause chromosomal damage and death.

Beta particles are smaller and move faster than alpha particles. They are able to penetrate deeper into living tissue, causing skin burns and long-term genetic damage. A piece of aluminum foil that will block beta particles, or stand 3 meters away from the emission source will be relatively safe. But like alpha particles, swallowing beta particles is extremely dangerous.

Gamma rays are high-frequency waves moving at the speed of light. It is the type of radiation that carries the highest and most powerful energy. They can attack over a large distance, through anything, even concrete or a thick lead.

For the human body, gamma rays will pierce straight through you without slowing down. It is like a micro bullet piercing every cell they encounter on the way.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 11.

The biological effect of radiation on the human body is measured by rem, determined by the complex combination of many factors including: radiation type; contact time; How many radiation penetrates into the body, in any position, because every different part of the body is sensitive to radiation damage at different rates.

For firefighters on the roof of the Chernobyl reactor, they had to receive up to 1,600 rem of radiation, equivalent to 160,000 chest x-rays.

This level of radiation immediately causes acute radiation syndrome (ARS), in which the biological tissue constitutes the human body destroyed to the maximum extent. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, hemorrhage and hair loss.

Not long after that, the patient's immune system will collapse, their bone marrow is exhausted, the internal organs disintegrate. Body parts where cells divide rapidly like bone marrow, skin and gastrointestinal tract are at first risk, followed by other organs such as heart, liver and brain.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 12.

The 126 Health and Hygiene Center in Pripyat is a complex with 400 beds, 1,200 medical staff and a giant maternity home. All are designed to serve an atomic city with a rising young population.

The scenario dealing with a nuclear disaster has not been prepared – especially on Saturday when most doctors stay at home.

The few doctors on duty and the few remaining medical personnel were immediately overwhelmed by the ambulance crew that brought the first victims from Chernobyl. They did not know what to do with the uniformed firefighters who were vomiting, despite pouring out of their stomachs.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 13.

When Lyudmilla reached the hospital, it was already past 7:00 in the morning. She saw both Vasily swollen, his eyes narrowed. Doctors only say that soldiers are poisoned with smoke, and what they need is a few liters of milk.

Lyudmilla went to the village to buy milk, but when she returned to the hospital, a security barrier was set up.

In the hospital, doctors now realized what really happened to the firefighters. They do not suffer from smoke poisoning, but are symptoms of acute radiation. All were asked to remove their clothing and personal belongings, including money and Party cards. The contaminated items were transferred to the hospital basement.

The nurses immediately went to the emergency relief boxes, including drugs and disposable IV tubes for radioactive victims. But the facilities at Pripyat hospital are not enough to cure soldiers, they will have to move to Moscow.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 14.

Standing between a sea of ​​people outside Pripyat Hospital, Lyudmilla could not meet Vasily that night. She could only stand under the window of his room. Vasily spoke down: "Please leave as soon as possible. They will transfer you to Moscow, you are okay, don't worry".

But how to leave, Pripyat, then closed the curfew. Trains and trams stopped, all roads were blocked, people could not send letters and could not make phone calls. Military vehicles flooded the town. Masked soldiers are washing sugar with white powder. Still no one talked about radiation.

The next morning, all the firemen and relatives of the firemen gathered together to form a group in front of the hospital. They want to go with their husbands to Moscow. "Let us go with our husband! You can't do that!"The wives punch and scratch while soldiers constantly have to push them back.

At that pressure, a doctor came out and said: "Okay, patients will fly to Moscow, but they will need to bring clothes"Lyudmilla and the other women ran quickly home. The bus stopped running so they had to walk through the city.

Ironically, when the women returned with pockets of clothes in their hands, the plane took off long ago. Being cheated and left behind, they could only cry.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 15.

Lyudmilla walked and cried amidst the still-white foams. Pripyat now flooded the bus. The town was ordered to evacuate. The loudspeaker said that everyone had to leave home 3-5 days temporarily.

People are recommended to bring some warm clothes, they will stay temporarily in the forest. Some people feel happy about that. They will have a picnic to welcome the International Labor Day. Some carry both radio and guitar. Only the firefighter's wife is crying.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 16.

Lyudmilla returned to Sperizhye, Vasily's parents house alone. "Mom, Vasya is in Moscow. They took him by special aircraft"Vasily stated that his son was in serious condition. So the whole family raised money, they withdrew the bank account for Lyudmilla to fly to Moscow.


"Do you have children?"Angelina Vasilyevna Guskova, head of the Radiology department at No. 6 Hospital, Moscow asked the girl who was begging to meet her husband. She was also surprised by how a Pripyat firefighter's wife could So quickly to Moscow, I still found my way to here.

It was a blessing, Lyudmilla met a general in the Pripyat fire station. He gave her his phone number, the only line in town and promised to tell her the information he had about the soldiers.

Down at the airport in Moscow, Lyudmilla called and he kept his promise.

"Then I have it", Lyudmilla replied to Guskova.

"How many children?"

"A boy and a girl".

"Then you don't need to give birth. Okay, listen carefully: Her husband's central nervous system has been completely damaged, the skull has also been completely damaged. Listen to this: If you can't hold back your tears, I'll chase you out immediately. Do not hug or kiss. Don't even go near him. She has half an hour".

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 17.

Lyudmilla entered the room when Vasily was playing cards with her comrades and laughing happily. She looked so funny in 48-size pajamas, short sleeves and pants as well, maybe the hospital wasn't 52 of his size.

"It's done! Even here she found me"Vasily told his friends in joy. His face was no longer swollen, the symptoms of acute radiation had completely disappeared. Both dizziness and vomiting clung to them from Prypiat to Moscow now. also no longer.

The image of healthy young firefighters is back. Only a few feel mild headaches, anorexia and dry mouth. Others have reddened skin but also only slightly swollen at the site of exposure to gamma rays or contaminated water absorbed through clothing.

There was no reason to believe Guskova, when that department chief warned Lyudmilla that her husband's body was completely damaged. Vasily and the soldiers looked as if they were about to be discharged.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 18.

However, acute radiation syndrome is something very strange and cruel. After studying its mass victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, doctors knew exactly what would happen to the firefighters.

Vasily and his teammates climbed onto the roof of the No. 3 reactor. There, they inhaled the smoke-filled body of countless alpha and beta particles. A simple uniform of fabric cannot prevent any gamma ray from radioactive debris. They capture the DNA, destroy it and the cells will start to die.

Nausea, vomiting will be the first symptoms. The soldiers' skin turned red and then turned gray, the outer skin was killed by radiation. However, the damage inside their bodies will be delayed for 18 hours, which is the time when the symptoms disappear.

Vasily and his teammates are entering a late stage quite comfortably. They are given antibiotics to prevent infection. The patients seem to be very healthy, but that is just the pre-storm silence. Vasily had to diagnose radiological degree 1: the level described with the phrase "not compatible with life ".

Even so, doctors still want to try to save him with a procedure: a bone marrow transplant.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 19.

"Is it day or night?"Vasily asked.

"It is already nine o'clock", Lyudmilla replied.

"Open the window to see me! They are going to fireworks! "

That day was May 9, the whole city of Moscow was celebrating the Victory Day of the Nazis, successfully ending the Great Patriotic War. Lyudmilla opened the window, the room that Vasily lay on the 8th floor of the hospital, from which the couple could see the city, Red Square, Kremlin, Spasskaya Tower, Lenin Mausoleum and St. St.'s Church. Basil’s.

"You watch this beautiful", Lyudmilla said as the fireworks exploded in the air.

"I told you, one day I will take you to Moscow. And I also promised to always buy flowers for you every holiday …"Vasily took out from under the pillow of three carnations that he gave him money to buy from a nurse.

Lyudmilla ran to kiss him again. "My love! I love you, only you. "

"How did the doctor tell me? Don't hug me. And not to kiss ". Lyudmilla helped Vasily sit up, put the bed back, put the thermometer. That day, they stayed up all night.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of the Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 20.

Vasily had a bone marrow transplant from a cousin, Lyuda, a 28-year-old nurse. Previously, doctors also found a more suitable donor, Natily's cousin, Natasha, then 14 years old. But the procedure for extracting marrow is very cruel.

It requires doctors to poke big needles 15cm long into donated human bones. It will take about 2 hours, dozens to hundreds of times to marrow in different positions to draw enough red liquid mixture containing stem cells, new blood-producing cells to spread to victims. radiation-infected nucleus – hoping to restore their immune system.

Vasily refused: "I would rather die. She is too young. Don't touch her"Until Lyuda stood out for Natasha, Vasily accepted it."As long as my brother is alive"Lyuda said before receiving 18 holes in her chest, the needles made her numb.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Gale, a hematologist of the world's leading medical specialist in the field of marrow transplantation from the University of California Medical Center. Vasily was transferred to a special hospital bed that Gale called "island of life".

These are beds covered with plastic as an important line of defense in battle, helping doctors to keep their patients alive long enough to recover from marrow transfusions.

When their immune system is almost destroyed by radiation, the breathing air must also be filtered and disinfected with ultraviolet rays. Doctors taking care of them must wear sterile clothes, or just approach patients from outside the plastic sheet, through rubber arms.

They buried him with bare feet: The tragic death of Chernobyl firefighter - Photo 21.

Các nhân viên y tế đã cố gắng giữ Lyudmilla ở ngoài, nhưng bây giờ không có gì ngăn được cô ấy ở cạnh Vasily. Cô lẻn vào phòng khi các bác sĩ hết ca trực buổi tối. Lyudmilla ở đó mỗi đêm, cạnh Vasily vì không còn bất kể một y tá nào chăm sóc cho những người lính cứu hỏa ở đó nữa.

Một phần vì họ sợ bị nhiễm xạ, một phần vì hình ảnh những người lính lúc này khiến họ khiếp sợ. Mặc dù đã phục hồi sau ca ghép tủy, tình hình chung của Vasily xấu đi trông thấy. Mỗi ngày, anh như lột xác trở thành một người mới.

Các vết bỏng phồng rộp trở lại trên khuôn mặt. Trong miệng, trên lưỡi, trên má các vết thương nhỏ lớn dần. Da bong ra từng lớp, bọc lấy ngoài cùng cơ thể là một lớp da chết như phim trắng. Cả khuôn mặt, cơ thể Vasily loang lổ những mảng màu xanh da trời, trắng, đỏ, nâu xám.

Tóc anh ấy bắt đầu rụng, phổi sưng lên và ngực ngày càng to. Vasily khó thở, khó ngủ và phải tiêm thuốc an thần cho đến khi thuốc giảm đau cũng không còn tác dụng. Các cơ quan nội tạng bên trong cơ thể đã có dấu hiệu hoại tử. Toàn bộ cơ thể anh sưng phồng lên không thể mặc quần áo.

Họ chôn anh với đôi chân trần: Cái chết bi thảm của người lính cứu hỏa ở Chernobyl - Ảnh 22.

Ban ngày, một số bác sĩ sẽ đến chụp ảnh anh ấy, vì mục đích khoa học. Họ che một mảnh vải nhỏ trên cơ thể anh. Tối đến, khi Lyudmilla đến và thay mảnh vải, nó dính đầy máu. Khi cô bế Vasily dậy, cánh tay cô dính đầy những mảnh da của anh.

Vasily cố chống người dậy, Lyudmilla sẽ làm phẳng ga giường. Mỗi nếp gấp nào trên đó bây giờ cũng có thể cứa một vết thương vào da thịt anh ấy. Lyudmilla đã phải cắt móng tay đến bật máu để không vô tình làm tổn thương anh.

Vasily không còn có thể ăn, dù các bác sĩ đã gợi ý cho anh ấy ăn trứng sống. Nhưng hệ tiêu hóa của anh ấy không còn làm việc. Thỉnh thoảng, Vasily nôn mửa. Chẳng có thức ăn nào trong dạ dày cả, thay vào đó là những mảnh phổi và gan trôi ra ngoài.

Đến 11 giờ ngày 13 tháng 5 năm 1986, người lính cứu hỏa Vasily Ignatenko qua đời.

Họ chôn anh với đôi chân trần: Cái chết bi thảm của người lính cứu hỏa ở Chernobyl - Ảnh 23.
Họ chôn anh với đôi chân trần: Cái chết bi thảm của người lính cứu hỏa ở Chernobyl - Ảnh 24.

Lyudmilla gào khóc như thể cả tòa nhà sẽ nghe thấy cô ấy. Cô mới chỉ rời anh 3 tiếng đồng hồ để đến tham dự tang lễ đồng nghiệp Vasily. Khi trở lại bệnh viện, y tá nói rằng "Anh ấy đã chết 15 phút trước". Những lời cuối cùng Vasily đã gọi tên cô: "Lyusya, Lyusenka".

Kể từ đó, Lyudmilla không rời anh thêm một phút giây nào nữa. Những người lính mặc lại đồng phục cho anh ấy. Bởi toàn bộ cơ thể Vasily đã sưng phồng, họ phải cắt bộ đồng phục ra. Không có một đôi giày nào vừa với đôi chân phù nề của anh, họ đã chôn anh với đôi chân trần.

Một chiếc túi nylon dày được chuẩn bị để bọc thi thể Vasily lại. Sau đó họ đặt anh vào một quan tài bằng gỗ. Chiếc quan tài được bọc lại bằng một lớp nylon khác rồi tất cả được đặt vào một quan tài kẽm. Nắp quan tài được hàn kín lại.

"Những người lính này là những anh hùng. Thi thể của họ bây giờ không còn thuộc về gia đình nữa. Họ là những anh hùng của Liên Xô. Bây giờ họ thuộc về Liên Xô". Tất cả các quan tài kẽm được đưa tới một nghĩa trang ở Moscow. Họ chôn vùi chúng xuống một lớp bê tông dày để ngăn phóng xạ.

Ở giữa nghĩa trang, một tượng đài được dựng lên. Nó là hình tượng một người đàn ông che chắn thành phố khỏi vụ nổ phóng xạ. Trên mỗi nấm mộ là một bức phù điêu bằng đá khắc lại chân dung những người lính cứu hỏa cùng những nạn nhân khác của vụ nổ ở Chernobyl.

Họ chôn anh với đôi chân trần: Cái chết bi thảm của người lính cứu hỏa ở Chernobyl - Ảnh 25.

Nghĩa trang Mitinskoe ở Mosow, nơi yên nghỉ của 28 lính cứu hỏa đã chết khi làm nhiệm vụ trong thảm họa Chernobyl

Vụ tai nạn ở Chernobyl đã khiến tổng cộng 237 người phải nhập viện vì hội chứng nhiễm phóng xạ cấp tính. Trong số 29 người tử vong sau 3 tháng có tới 28 lính cứu hỏa. 15 người khác tiếp tục chết vì ung thư trong những năm tiếp theo.

Ngày 26 tháng 4 năm 1986 đã thay đổi cuộc sống của Lyudmilla Ignatenko một cách vĩnh viễn. Nếu lò phản ứng Chernobyl không phát nổ, cô đã có thể cùng chồng mình trở về quê trồng khoai tây vào sáng sớm. Lyudmilla sẽ hạ sinh một bé gái được Vasily đặt tên trước là Natasha.

Nhưng sau khi hấp thụ phóng xạ phát ra từ cơ thể Vasily, đứa bé đã chết chỉ sau 4 tiếng chào đời. Vì những hi sinh của Vasily, nhà nước đã cấp cho Lyudmilla một căn hộ ở Kiev. Đó là một căn hộ lớn 2 phòng mà cả Vasily và cô từng mơ ước. Nhưng mãi mãi, anh không còn ở đây với cô được nữa.

Năm 2006, đúng 20 năm sau thảm họa, Vasily Ignatenko được nhà nước Ukraine truy tặng huân chương Anh hùng.

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