on the 26th of April 1986, the worst nuclear disaster in history happened. The Chernobyl "number four" reactor core began to melt. Water used to cool the reactor turned to steam causing an explosion and a fire. Fumes and debris escaped into the atmosphere and was detected all over Europe. Firefighters from the nearby city of Pripyat as well as firefighters from Kiev and other station rushed to the scene without the appropriate radiation protection gear to extinguish the flames. A large sarcophagus was constructed around the reactor building to protect the rest of the power plant from more radiation. As a result of the disaster, 31 people died directly from the event and countless others were exposed the lethal dose of radiation while they continued to work in the "number three" reactor which was operational until 2000.
While thousands of workers erected the containment unit, a scientific team re-entered the reactor to locate any remaining nuclear fuel to make sure it could not cause another explosion. The scientists were exposed to highly radioactive materials and as a result high doses of radiation. After six months of investigating the incident an immensely radioactive object was found. Dubbed "The Elephant's Foot" because of its wrinkled appearance, it contained sand, glass, concrete and nuclear fuel. The "Elephants foot" had traveled from the reactor core to the basement when it was in its molten form, collecting and melting whatever was in its path. It eventually cooled and solidified in the basement where it remains to this day. The radiation level of the 100-ton mass was measured at 10,000 roentgens per hour. Less than a minutes exposure to the object would kill you in a matter of hours.
Thousands of workers and scientists who were exposed to the radioactive power plant died in the following months and years of diseases related to radiation. A new containment unit is under construction at the moment that should suppress further radiation leakage.