A ceremony marking International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day will be held at the United Nations in New York today.

On this day in 1986, a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine with devastating consequences.

Today’s event at the United Nations will be co-hosted by the Irish Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne-Nason and will be addressed by Adi Roche of Chernobyl Children International.

A message from President Michael D Higgins will be read and a minute’s silence will be observed. 

Young people in Ukraine attend a memorial at the Chernobyl victims monument in Slavutych, where the power station's personnel lived

The UN ceremony, will also recognise a new TV drama about the Chernobyl disaster, which has been made by HBO and Sky.  

The five part mini-series is due to air next month and stars Irish actors Jessie Buckley and Barry Keoghan.

There will be a screening of the TV drama at today’s commemoration and some of the cast and crew are due to attend the ceremony. 

Speaking ahead of the event, Adi Roche said the upcoming mini-series portrays Chernobyl as never seen before.  

"It is helping us to see Chernobyl with fresh heart, fresh understanding, fresh compassion - retelling the story to a new and wider audience," she said.


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A massive protective shelter now covers the site

In the early hours of 26 April, 1986 a safety test at the Chernobyl nuclear plant went wrong.

Reactor number four exploded unleashing a massive cloud of radiation that spread across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and parts of Europe.

Thirty-one plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident.

There are estimates that thousands more later died directly or indirectly as a result of exposure to the radioactivity but there are no agreed statistics on the total number of lives lost.

More than 30 years on, many communities in Belarus and Ukraine continue to struggle with the medical, environmental and economic consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.