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18,000 Suffer Illness After A-Plant Blast

From Reuters

About 18,000 people suffered from headaches, coughing and respiratory trouble and some spat blood after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the death toll now stands at 25, Soviet scientists said today.

In addition, Soviet newspapers reported that an unspecified number of soldiers who battled the disaster are being treated for radiation sickness and that 177 Communist Party members had failed to return to work in a nearby town.

Nobel Peace laureate Yevgeny Chazov told a Moscow news conference that 23 people had died of radiation, besides two killed in the initial explosion at the Chernobyl power plant April 26. The previous total death count stood at 23.

Leonid Ilyin, head of a Moscow hospital treating many of the most seriously affected victims, said of 299 people suffering from acute radiation doses, 89 had subsequently been released. “About 30 still in the hospital are critical,” he added.

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In the weeks immediately after the accident about 18,000 people were taken to hospitals in the outlying area for checkups, Ilyin said. They were suffering from headaches, coughing and respiratory trouble, and some were spitting blood.

All were released after a few days.

100,000 Examined

“None of those examined displayed radiation sickness,” Ilyin said. In all, about 100,000 people were tested by local doctors, he said.

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The Soviet armed forces newspaper Red Star said “a number” of soldiers involved in rescue work at the stricken reactor in the Ukraine are being treated for radiation sickness at a military hospital in Kiev, about 80 miles from Chernobyl.

Ilyin said the Red Star report should have made clear that none of the soldiers are suffering from high radiation doses. All those with high radiation doses are being treated in Moscow, he said.

Meanwhile, Pravda reported that 177 Communist Party members from Pripyat, the town closest to the Chernobyl disaster, failed to show up for work.

Up to now 2,434 of Pripyat’s 2,611 party workers had reported for duty when the organization was moved to a nearby town, the party daily said. Pripyat has been closed to all but emergency workers.

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