Ben Fogle meets Chernobyl survivor who says she won’t leave city until she dies

Preview clips from Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle, a new Channel 5 feature length special, show the presenter as he spends a week living alone inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, thirty-five years after the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Exploring the human cost, Ben ventures inside the ruins of nearby Hospital 126, where all the first responders were brought in the immediate aftermath.

He explains: “Twenty-eight people brought to this hospital after the explosion, lost their lives within three months. It is unclear how many more would suffer from ill health as a result of their exposure to radiation that night.”

Ben walks through the hospital where the empty cots still remained, eerily lined up in the abandoned building that has mostly fallen to ruin.

He continues: “I think of all the buildings I’ve been into in Pripyat, this is the most chilling the most haunting, imagine the horrors that went on in here, the number of lives lost.

Ben Fogle outside Chernobyl Power Plant
Ben Fogle outside Chernobyl Power Plant

“This was a town of 48,000 people, they called it a city, there will have been lots of pregnant women, lots of newborns. Hours after the explosion, the whole city was evacuated.

“The whole working hospital, gone, look at it now.”

Ben then explains he has reached the entry to a basement which was one of the most toxic parts of Chernobyl, where all of the uniforms worn by the firefighters that attended the initial explosion were buried.

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“They were so toxic, so radioactive, they couldn’t let anyone near it,” he says.

The passage is now sealed to stop trespassers who were bizarrely intent on visiting the site of the disaster.

Ben then watched spooky footage taken from down in the basement where he is told radiation levels are “insanely high”.

The tiny dust particles are so radioactive, if you ingest any, even microscopic levels, you can be killed, his companion tells him.

Empty cots are lined up in the abandoned hospital

Inside Chernobyl
Ben watches exclusive footage from inside the basement where the first responders’ uniforms are buried

In another clip, Ben meets Valentyna, one of the people who decided to return to their former homes in the zone soon after the disaster happened.

Valentyna returned to Chernobyl soon after the disaster, because she realised she could never be happy anywhere else, despite being away from her family who would not return.

Friends bring Valentyna food, and she has some electricity, but her life is a humble one. But she insists she is not lonely and hated being forced away from her homeland.

Inside Chernobyl
Valentyna moved back to the disaster zone after suffering terribly from homesickness and says she will never leave

Ben asks Valentyna: “Will you ever leave here?”

“No, never. I was born here and I will die here,” she replies.

Millions of drama fans are familiar with the tragic events of April 26 1986 thanks to the stunning Sky Atlantic series of 2019, which won nine Baftas and four Emmys.

Experts say that the vast area around the plant will be uninhabitable for the next 20,000 years, such were the levels of radiation in the aftermath.

* Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle airs Wednesday 3rd March at 9pm on Channel 5

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