“Chernobyl” is lying: how many people actually died in the accident?

Released in May, the mini-series "Chernobyl" stunnedWith a great deal of attention to detail and realism: with his landscapes, buildings and interior elements, he seemed to transfer residents of the countries of the former USSR to the mid-1980s. Also, the picture is full of horrific scenes with dying people, but the popular columnist for Forbes, Michael Schellenberger, believes that the authors of the series deliberately exaggerated the number of victims and the severity of their injuries to add drama. He confirmed his words with references to the official UN report.

In his opinion, in fact, duringthe Chernobyl disaster killed far fewer people, and most deaths were not associated with radiation exposure. In the first episode of the series, after the explosion of the reactor, a lot of people get injured: the faces of the workers turn red, they vomit and most of them, apparently, die. One of the station staff from the different parts of the body begins to bleed, and later, the station manager learns about the severity of the disaster and falls seriously ill.

The number of victims of the Chernobyl disaster

According to Michael Schellenberger, in factthe first hours of the disaster killed only two workers, and this is evidenced by page 66 of the UN official report (PDF). The most interesting thing is that they did not die because of radiation: one was fatally injured from the fragments that scattered after the explosion, and the other died due to burns caused by fire.

The number of victims increased only after twoweeks - from the effects of burns (inflicted by fire!) began to die the people who arrived at the crash site first. Judging by the 624 page of the report, in five cases of skin damage from burns and radiation, only one was fatal. At the same time, six employees survived, since the wounds they had received were not critical.

Shot from the TV series "Chernobyl"

The journalist turned to the professor for commentTo Geraldine Thomas, who explained that in most cases people who had been burned were dying from infections. According to her, human skin is the main protective barrier against microbes entering the human body. In the case of the victims of the Chernobyl disaster, this protection was destroyed by burns, and patients like no one else were exposed to infection.

Thus, referring to the UN report, MichaelSchellenberger concluded that only 31 deaths are associated with the disaster at Chernobyl. It is noteworthy that at the scene 3 people died, and the remaining 28 died from their wounds. The victims of the disaster indirectly include another 19 people who died due to tuberculosis, cirrhosis of the liver and heart attacks, but the involvement of radiation in the development of such diseases has not been proven.

Radiation - the cause of thyroid cancer?

20,000 people who were at the time of the disasterless than 18 years later, thyroid cancer was discovered. Previously, the UN believed that 18,000 cases of cancer were associated with radiation exposure, but in the 2017 update (PDF), the organization reduced this number to 5,000. Of these 5,000 people, most likely, only 50–160 died because the death rate from thyroid cancer is only 1%, and most of the victims are elderly.

In addition to all of the above, MichaelSchellenberger believes that the Chernobyl catastrophe is not necessarily the cause of birth defects in children. As evidence, he cited the results of a 2017 Oxford University study (PDF) - scientists really did not find convincing evidence that radiation is the cause of birth defects. In other works, where the danger of radiation was confirmed, the journalist did not find data on the diet of mothers and their bad habits, which could also cause deviations.

The most terrible disaster

The Chernobyl disaster is definitely a terribletragedy that has touched the whole world. But Michael Schellenberger noticed that in the history there were more large-scale emergencies that took the lives of much more people. Take, for example, the collapse of the Banqiao dam, which killed about 230,000 people, or the Bhopal catastrophe, during which between 15,000 and 18,000 people died.

The journalist also found data on numerousfire victims. So, in a fire in the English building of the Grenfell Tower in 2017, 71 people burned down. During the fire of the twin towers in September 2001, 343 firefighters lost their lives. In addition, he cited statistics on deaths for more trivial reasons: 270,000 people die during walks per year, 1,350,000 people die in road accidents, and 2,300,000 people die during work.

The collapse of the Banqiao Dam

After such comparisons on Twitter, a journalistbegan to criticize for insensitivity. However, in the opinion of the author of the article, real insensitivity and disrespect is a deliberate exaggeration of the number of victims of the catastrophe and inducing excessive panic.

On the series "Chernobyl", it seems, you can talkforever - talk about it does not subside even after two months from the date of release. Even on our site you can find a dozen of materials that tell about similar disasters, the accuracy of the series from the point of view of science and safety of nuclear reactors.

We advise you to read:

We watched the TV series "Chernobyl" and do not calm down? Read what happened after the accident

And in general, do you agree with the opinion of Michael Schellenberger? Share your opinion in the comments, or join the conversation in our Telegram-chat.