Atomic “doomtowns” that once surrounded Chernobyl

The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster occurred on April 26, 1986, when reactor #4 exploded. Before being brought under control weeks later, extreme levels of radiation had spread outward from the nuclear plant by both wind and rain. This inundated communities all across the region with unsafe levels of radiation.  The map below shows a summary of the areas most severely impacted by these dangerous levels of radiation.


Further below is a partial list of the many evacuated, abandoned, and buried atomic “doomtowns” (cities, towns, villages, and small settlements) that were once situated within  what is now known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) covering 1,000 square miles in Ukraine and the Palieski (Polesie) Radioecological Reserve (PRR) occupying 850 square miles in Belarus (see map below). Sadly, there does not seem to be a comprehensive compilation of all the communities that were evacuated, abandoned, and/or bull-dozed as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster.


In Belarus alone, approximately 470 settlements of varying sizes had to be evacuated and abandoned. Nearly 80 more were in Ukraine. Many were bulldozed and buried to prevent further contamination. In addition, as the map depicting the irradiated areas shows, there are many other cities and towns that were severely impacted by the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, but were never abandoned, in Ukraine, Belarus, and even some parts of western Russia itself.

Here’s a working list of 41 communities that were depopulated as a result of the fateful events from that April night in 1986. Needless to say, there are many more that need to be added. Any additions, corrections, or suggestions are most welcome. Please note that since communities are often known by either the their Russian, Belarusian, and/or Ukrainian names, the spelling may vary from what is listed here based on the language.

  • Andriivka, Ukraine (1931-1990) – population of 224 in 1986
  • Aravichy, Belarus (16th Century-1988) – population of 923 in 1959
  • Babchyn, Belarus – population of 839 in 1959
  • Bagushi, Belarus – population of 599 in 1959
  • Buda, Belarus – population 267 in 1959
  • Chamkou, Belarus – population of 138 in 1959
  • Chernobyl, Ukraine (1193-1986) – population of 13,700 in 1986
  • Dzernavichy, Belarus (18th Century-1988) – largest town in the PRR with a population 1,016 in 1959
  • Haroshkau, Belarus – population 191 in 1959
  • Illnsti, Ukraine – population of 1,059 in 1986
  • Kalyban, Belarus – population of 977 in 1959
  • Kaporanka, Belarus – population of 317 in 1959
  • Kazhushki, Belarus – population of 869 in 1959
  • Khabno(e), Ukraine (1215-1999) – more information needed (see photo below)
  • Kopachi, Ukraine (1923-1986) – more information needed
  • Kupuvate, Ukraine – population of 324 in 1986
  • Ladyzhychi, Ukraine – population of 683 in 1986
  • Lomachy, Belarus – population of 177 in 1959
  • Lubianka, Ukraine – population of 612 in 1986
  • Novoshepelychi, Ukraine – population of 1,683 in 1986
  • Novakukhnaushchyna, Belarus – population of 135 in 1959
  • Novy Pakrousk, Belarus – population of 176 in 1959
  • Opachychi, Ukraine (?-1999) – population of 681 in 1986
  • Otashiv, Ukraine – population 71 in 1986
  • Paryshiv, Ukraine – population of 678 in 1986
  • Pasudava, Belarus – population of 642 in 1959
  • Pirki, Belarus – population of 552 in 1959
  • Poliske, Ukraine (1415-1986) – population of 12,000 in 1986 (see photo above)
  • Poliske, Narodychi Raion, Ukraine (?-1990) – population of 150 in 1981
  • Pripyat, Ukraine (1970-1986) – largest city in the CEZ with a population of 49,360 in 1986
  • Rudnia-Illinetska, Ukraine – population of 114 in 1986
  • Rudya, Belarus – population of 245 in 1959
  • Shipelicki, Ukraine – more information needed
  • Solnechny, Belarus – more information needed
  • Sudvoko, Belarus – more information needed
  • Tarasy, Ukraine (ca 18th Century-1986) – population of 630 in 1986
  • Teremtsi, Ukraine – population of 463 in 1986
  • Velyki Klishchi, Ukraine (end of 17th Century-1986) – population of 786 in 1981
  • Vilcha, Ukraine (1926-1986)- population of 3,000 in 1986 (see photo below)
  • Yaniv, Ukraine (18th Century-1986) – population of 100 in 1986
  • Zalissia, Ukraine – population of 2,849 in 1986

Khabno(e), Ukraine – Source:

In the months and years following the disaster, a number of former residents migrated illegally back into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to reoccupy their homes, despite the high radiation levels in the sector. At one point, as many as several thousand people may have lived within the zone, but this number has been dwindling over the years. Remnants of the town of Chernobyl itself is being utilized as a base of operations for those working in and monitoring the CEZ.

Vilcha, Ukraine – Source:

As of 2016, approximately 180 people lived in various locations throughout the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (in Ukraine), most of them elderly women (babushkas) who were reluctantly allowed to remain after they returned.  Younger folks living in the zone illegally have been ordered to move out.  The outstanding award-winning documentary film from 2015, “The Babushkas of Chernobyl,” depicts their daily lives and living conditions in the zone.  If this excellent film interests you, an image link to* is provided below.


*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Secondly, a fascinating book that describes areas in and near the from the Palieski (Polesie) Radioecological Reserve of Belarus is the following (a link is also provided to*):


*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


This entry was posted in atomic age, cities, environment, Europe, film, geography, history, humanity, Maps, movies, pollution, Russia, Statistics, topography, Uncategorized, Women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.