On April 26, 1986, the lives of thousands of people got turned upside down when Russia's nuclear reactor exploded in the city of Pripyat, unleashing toxic radioactive material into the surrounding area.
At the moment of the explosion, 31 people lost their lives, yet the effects of the poisonous omissions continue to ravage the area to this day. Children born with severe physical abnormalities and people suffering from aggressive cancers are all still commonplace these days.
Thirty years later and the Chernobyl reactor is still a haunting reminder of the devastating danger that nuclear energy can pose — even today, there is a 19-mile exclusion zone surrounding the abandoned reactor that's guarded by the military to prevent intruders. And while experts claim that it will be 20,000 years until the area is safe to inhabit again, one brave photographer ventured into the no-go zone to capture some stunning images of the Chernobyl that once was. Take a look at some of Jerzy Wierzbicki's work:
To see more from the artist, go to his website.