A combination of bad reactor design and poor training lead to an explosion. In response the reactor was encased in concrete and the surrounding area was evacuated. Wikipedia suggests 31 fatalities.
Scientists including Chris Busby have reached much higher estimates of the fatalities due to radiation.
Radiotrophic fungi were discovered in 1991 growing inside and around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that three melanin-containing fungi—Cladosporium sphaerospermum, Wangiella dermatitidis, and Cryptococcus neoformans — increased in biomass and accumulated acetate faster in an environment in which the radiation level was 500 times higher than in the normal environment. Exposure of C. neoformans cells to these radiation levels rapidly (within 20–40 minutes of exposure) altered the chemical properties of its melanin, and increased melanin-mediated rates of electron transfer (measured as reduction of ferricyanide by NADH) three- to four-fold compared with unexposed cells. Similar effects on melanin electron-transport capability were observed by the authors after exposure to non-ionizing radiation, suggesting that melanotic fungi might also be able to use light or heat radiation for growth.
|Document:Fukushima - Nuclear math in meltdown||16 February 2012||Gayle Greene|
|Document:The real legacy of Chernobyl||26 April 2016||Chris Busby||Suppressed information about the health risks of radiation 30 years after the Chernobyl disaster|
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