Canis lupus familiaris
- Jan 3, 2018
The only child known to have been born and raised inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone now a happy, healthy college student approaching her 20th birthday.
Mariyka Sovenko, now 19, was born to mother Lydia and husband Mikhail deep inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone in 1999 - a decade after the disaster.
Her birth was initially covered up by the Ukrainian authorities, embarrassed that some people were still living inside the deeply irradiated zone, but details have resurfaced as interest in the disaster has peaked thanks to the Sky Atlantic series.
Though Mariyka does not feature in the series, for many in Ukraine her life marks one of the defining chapters of the ongoing saga.
Lydia and husband Mikhail, who was a firefighter called to reactor 4 on the night of the explosion in 1986, had refused to leave the exclusion zone because they were not offered evacuation housing by the Soviet Union.
Lydia had not realised she was pregnant until she gave birth with Mikhail's help - who cut his daughter's umbilical chord before giving her a wash.
Once news of Mariyka's birth spread, Lydia recalled being treated 'like a criminal' for giving birth at Chernobyl and refusing to budge from one of the only family homes in the zone.
But she continued to raise Mariyka there, ignoring government health warnings that she was putting her daughter in mortal danger as young Marikya drank milk from a cow grazing on irradiated pastures and swam in streams where the fish sent Geiger counters bleeping wildly.
Only child born and raised inside Chernobyl exclusion zone is now a healthy student, aged 19 | Daily Mail Online