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The Immediate Aftermath

With the core now fully exposed, a plume of smoke, radioactive fission products and debris rose up to about 1km into the air. The material was carried northwest by the wind – mainly to Belarus, though other areas were affected, including Ukraine. Fires broke out all over the plant. About 250 firemen were called, many of whom were not equipped with measuring instruments to monitor the radiation dosages they were receiving. The operators and rescue workers are to be commended – many stayed on call in the area after having been relieved of their duties and many risked their lives to save others and bring the situation under control. Most of the fires had been extinguished by 05:00, but the graphite fire continued for another nine days. The main release of radioactivity into the environment was caused by the burning graphite. http://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A2922103