"Lost Tapes" Of Chernobyl Reveal The Devastating Impact Of The Worst Nuclear Disaster

A new documentary contains "lost tapes" of the Chornobyl disaster, the worst nuclear incident in history, that have never been seen before.


Jack Dunhill

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

clockJun 6 2022, 15:03 UTC
Bed frames of an empty hospital in the remains of Chernobyl
Over 400,000 people were displaced from the disaster. Image Credit: Roman Belogorodov/

A new documentary contains "lost tapes" of the Chornobyl disaster that have never been seen before, showing the horrific destruction and anguish that occurred during and after the worst nuclear incident in history. In a new trailer for the Sky Original documentary, Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes, HBO released small snippets of footage of the heroic workers that fought to contain the fallout and of the thousands of residents evacuating the area, including the voices of locals that the documentary claims were “silenced” following the disaster. 


The Chornobyl disaster occurred in 1986, when a perfect storm of operator negligence and fundamental flaws in the plant design resulted in a reactor meltdown on a scale the world had never seen before. Just 130 kilometers (81 miles) north of Kyiv, the reactor sent a plume of radioactive debris into the sky in a rainbow beam of light, with contaminated particulates detected 1,100 kilometers (683 miles) away in Sweden and radioactive rain falling over the skies of Britain.  

It remains one of just two nuclear incidents rated 7 (the maximum rating) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, with Fukushima being the other. 

The new footage gives a rare glimpse into the lives of residents of the nearby town Pripyat, most of whom were evacuated to never return. It shows the desperate work of thousands of Soviet miners, officials, and technicians that worked to stop the disaster from becoming a global catastrophe, all whilst attempting to cover up the incident from the world’s watchful eyes. 

“Thirty-six years after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded in Soviet Ukraine, newly uncovered archival footage and recorded interviews with those who were present paint an emotional and gripping portrait of the extent and gravity of the disaster and the lengths to which the Soviet government went to cover up the incident, including the soldiers sent in to “liquidate” the damage,” HBO said


Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes will be available on HBO Max on June 22 in the US or on Sky in the UK. 

Chernobyl, as the power plant is known in the West, is the romanization of the Russian spelling. The romanization of the Ukrainian spelling is Chornobyl. To align with sources we kept this spelling throughout the article. 

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