Update: This post was originally published in November 2014. The 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster is on Tuesday.
The area around Ukraine's Chernobyl power plant, site of one of the world's most horrifying nuclear disasters, is the subject of endless fascination. Increasingly, adventurous tourists and scientists have come to the site, which was abandoned after a reactor in the Soviet facility exploded in 1986. Cloaked in both the trauma and the poison of the disaster, Chernobyl's surreal isolation has spurred the return of once-imperiled species and the imagination of filmmakers.
The 2012 horror flick "Chernobyl Diaries" sends a pack of overeager tourists to the ghost town of Pripyat, where 50,000 Chernobyl factory workers used to live. They don't realize that other fell things lurk amid the ruins, and the rest is predictable (and forgettable) Hollywood schlock.
But Pripyat is worth seeing. On assignment in Chernobyl's environs, British videographer Danny Cooke used a drone to film the Soviet-era facades of Pripyat's residential complexes, the rusted Ferris wheels and the layers of dust and decay that have built up amid the desolation of a whole town. It's a haunting sight, as Cooke explains:
During my stay, I met so many amazing people, one of whom was my guide Yevgen, also known as a 'Stalker'. We spent the week together exploring Chernobyl and the nearby abandoned city of Pripyat. There was something serene, yet highly disturbing about this place. Time has stood still and there are memories of past happenings floating around us.