UPDATED 01:21 EDT / APRIL 08 2016


Inside the Exclusion Zone: Experience the Chernobyl disaster through virtual reality

Almost 30 years to the day, one of the world’s worst disasters took place at the Chernobyl (Ukrainian spelling is Chornobyl) Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine when an explosion sent radioactive particles across much of the former western USSR and parts of Europe. Thirty-one people died shortly after the initial explosion, but soon people living within the vicinity of the power plant became violently ill. The health impact of such a catastrophe is still uncertain, but it’s thought that radiation poisoning has affected many thousands of people over a large area.

Residents living close by were evacuated from within 30km of the plant, which has now become known as the Exclusion Zone. Clean-ups of radioactive materials have taken place over the years since the accident, but the Exclusion Zone has remained a no-go area except for around 300 residents who refused to move.

Until now, much of the world could have no idea what life looks like inside the Exclusion Zone, only with improved virtual reality (VR) technology such as Oculus  Rift, Samsung Gear VRs, Google  Cardboard headsets and the new interactive Chornobyl 360 VR documentary, this small Ukrainian town and its former power plant has opened its doors.

Filmed with a 360-degree  spherical camera, the documentary will give users “an immersive  experience  of moving through  the ghost city of Pripyat and the Exclusion Zone, the Nuclear Power Plant, become a witness of the nuclear waste management, and have the opportunity to take part in the construction process of the new sarcophagus,” according to a press release.

Users will also be able to interact with locals still living in the area, as well as engineers, liquidators of the disaster and other people whose lives have been affected by the catastrophe.

The film’s creators explained how the documentary is interactive in terms of navigating the plot: “The plot is built on multiple paths through  the stories that can be watched selectively or sequentially. But in order to see the culmination and to get inside the Chornobyl unique objects,  which are usually accessible only to selected employees of the zone,  you will have to pass all the levels of the project. Viewer’s  abilities to move through the plot depend on the selected story of the characters,  which are opening the way to the plant.”

After a period of months the VR team is almost finished. In order to complete the film the team is currently trying to raise funds via a Kickstarter PBC campaign.

Photo credit: Chornobyl360

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