For residents of Chernobyl, a three-day evacuation turned into a thirty-year exile.
On the morning of April 26, 1986, no one could yet tell that a meltdown in reactor 4 of the nuclear plant in then-Soviet Ukraine was poisoning the air with so much deadly radioactivity that it would become the world's worst nuclear accident.
Now, as some survivors returned to their hometown of Pripyat on the eve of the anniversary, memories of confusion and sacrifice abound.
"I barely found my apartment, I mean it's a forest now - trees growing through the pavement, on the roofs. All the rooms are empty, the glass is gone from the windows and everything's destroyed," said Zoya Perevozchenko, 66.
She only realised something might be wrong that day 30 years before when her husband, Valeriy, didn't come back from his night shift as a foreman at the stricken reactor.