Belarus is situated east of Poland, north of Ukraine, south of Latvia and Lithuania and west of Russia.
On 26th April 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine exploded. Further explosions and subsequent fires caused a plume of radioactive matter to enter the atmosphere. Prevailing northerly winds are thought to have carried around 70% of this radioactive matter to Belarus, affecting approximately 23% of its territory, 3,678 towns and 2 million people.
There are high cancer rates among children, especially those whose parents were exposed to the radiation. Cancer of the thyroid and widespread immune deficiency syndrome, which makes people prone to other diseases, are the most common.
The full extent of the damage is difficult to assess. The effect of Chernobyl is expected to take thousands of years to disappear, with only 8% of the children of Belarus reported as being free from any illness.