Today in History, April 26

Taken shortly after the disaster, this Soviet government photo shows extensive damage to the main reactor hall, center, and turbine building, lower left.

Tragedy struck 27 years ago today, on April 26, 1986, when a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear station, releasing an enormous cloud of radiation into the air. The official death count was 31, and area has been left uninhabitable for centuries.