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Chornobyl turned the closest towns into ghost towns 6 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian activists and the environmental group Greenpeace International today cast doubt on United Nations predictions of relatively low death tolls from the effects of the 1986 nuclear plant disaster at Chornobyl, in Ukraine.

Belarusian activists and Greenpeace are reacting to predictions that around 4,000 people are likely to die as a result of the nuclear explosion. That number has been approximated by a working group of UN agencies. It is much lower than previous estimates.

Jan Zadeputte, a radiation expert with Greenpeace, told RFE/RL the report could have "dangerous" effects. "We think that the report is trying to minimize the impact and this is not only a lack of respect towards the victims but it also leads to dangerous recommendations, such as relocating people in contaminated zones, which would lead to even more victims in the future."

Vladimir Tsalka, from the Chornobyl Committee of Belarus, says the UN report fails to deal with cardiovascular and noncancer related illnesses from radiation poisoning.

The developments come as UN experts today started a two-day forum in Vienna to discuss the new Chornobyl report.

(Reuters/AFP)

See also: Ukraine: New Report Says Chornobyl's Final Death Toll To Reach 4,000
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