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Official Media Give Details From Disaster Area

May 6, 1986

MOSCOW (AP) _ The Soviet media on Tuesday gave their first relatively detailed accounts of life in the Kiev region after the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant 80 miles north of the Ukranian capital.

Tass, the official news agency, said, ″Although the situation remains disquieting, there are no grounds for unwarranted skepticism.″

It said all people evacuated from an 18-mile zone around the plant were ″subjected to special decontamination treatment,″ and added, ″According to official medical information, there are no health risks for the absolute majority of evacuees.″

The Tass report did not say how many were evacuated, but a Soviet official said over the weekend that 49,000 residents were moved out, including the 25,000 in the plant town of Pripyat.

Other Soviet officials told a news conference Tuesday in Moscow that the plant staff did not realize immediately how serious the accident was when the explosion and fire occurred April 26, and evacuation did not begin until 36 hours later.

Tass quoted Grigory Revenko, Communist Party chief in the Kiev region, as saying 1,100 buses in a column 12 miles long took the people out of danger.

He said the operation went smoothly in Pripyat, the settlement adjoining the plant, and it was evacuated in two hours and 20 minutes, according to Tass.

Many farmers outside the town were reluctant to leave, Revenko told the agency, and several had to be persuaded by officials in charge of the operation.

Tass quoted Revenko as saying specialists were testing crops, soil, water and air around Kiev, a city of 2.4 million people, but the report did not say that the tests were to determine radiation levels or if citizens had been advised about health precautions.

A Canadian diplomat in Moscow said two Canadian students who arrived Monday from Kiev had heard radio warnings against bathing or fishing in the Dnieper River, which passes through the city and is fed by the Pripyat and Uzh rivers that run close to the Chernobyl plant.

Two Kiev doctors interviewed on the national evening television news Tuesday said evacuees who were examined had suffered no ill effects.

One man who said he was a Pripyat resident was shown being declared in good health and told a television interviewer he wanted to get back to work as soon as possible.

Revenko said vegetables supplied to Kiev and neighboring cities were checked before they left the farms and again when they arrived at stores, accoarding to Tass. He also told the agency all roads in the region were being washed regularly.

Tass correspondents emphasized the impression, which the official media have given for the past week, of Kiev being a calm city where life is normal. The agency’s report said the people were living ″a calm, confident and full- blooded life.″

The International Peace Cycling Race, which began Tuesday in Kiev, was shown briefly on national television.

Some elements of the Tass account contradicted reports by Soviet officials.

Boris Yeltsin, Moscow Communist Party chief, said during a weekend trip to West Germany that livestock from the contaminated area were slaughtered. His report was reinforced at a news conference Tuesday by Boris Y. Shcherbina, the deputy premier who heads a government commission investigating the disaster.

Tass said: ″Cattle and horses are being evacuated from the accident area. Domestic animals have not been left behind. Summer pens have already been built in the farms to accommodate the cattle. The evacuated livestock farmers will tend their animals.″

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