In 1986, the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant forced the residents of the town of Prypiat to evacuate, never to return. Today, Prypiat is a collection of crumbling buildings, and nature has begun to reclaim the city.

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Before the Chernobyl Disaster, Prypiat was a thriving, modern city with a population 50,000, many of them workers and scientists at the plant. It was two days after the disaster before Prypiat was entirely abandoned, and many of the plant workers exposed to the initial wave of radiation were brought to the Prypiat Hospital for treatment, before it became clear that the hospital itself was dangerously irradiated. Unfortunately, intrusions of nature and normal decay aside, images of modern Prypiat don't necessarily offer a pure sense of the state in which the residents and rescue workers left the city, as items have been moved and removed by vandals, looters, and photographers looking for more emotional pictures. Still, the photos offer a sense of an aging, crumbling city, and how plant and animal life can quickly take over when humans have departed.

More images are available at Village of Joy [via Metafilter].

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Top: Sign on the road to Prypiat.

Railway Bridge

Prypiat from above

Local Government Building

Prypiat Funfair, which was due to open a week after the Chernobyl Disaster. No one ever rode the Ferris wheel, and it is currently one of the most irradiated parts of Prypiat

Bumper cars at Prypiat Funfair

Prypiat Funfair

Outside surgery in Prypiat Hospital

Hospital Corridor

Hospital

Hospital

Kindergarten

Radiation reading 400 meters away from the damaged reactor.

Secondary School

Secondary School

Secondary School