The only baby born in Chernobyl is turning 20-years-old, and she's perfectly healthy!
According to The Sun, Mariyka life began in a part of the world where no one believed life could exist — Chernobyl, near reactor four. Her family lived within the area's exclusion zone — which even more than a decade after the 1986 meltdown, was still considered uninhabitable for humans— after being left with no alternative. Yet, they made it work. Mariyka's father, Mikhail, fed his family by catching fish, and a local cow provided them with milk, and she turned out just fine. Her childhood was somewhat lonely, however, as she didn't have any friends her age around, but she was still happy and healthy, according to her family.
"She is a lovely child who is absolutely healthy as far as we can see," says Mariyka's mother, LydiaSovenko.
Her story made headlines, after all, it was pretty remarkable, but after a quick blip on the radar, she wasn't seen for years.
Now, at 19-years of age, Mariyka is putting her time in Chernobyl behind her. Enrolled in school in Ukraine, she's living her life in the country's capital city, Kiev, where she also works at a local bar.
“I’m providing for myself. This is it," she says
Still, growing up in Chernobyl is pretty remarkable. On April 26, 1986, a reactor meltdown triggered a nuclear blast with the force equivalent to 500 nuclear bombs. This destroyed the structure housing the reactor, but much worse, it allowed nuclear to blast up into the atmosphere as well. The effects were far-reaching, too, with parts of Switzerland and Greece seeing nuclear material. Despite all of this, there is no record on a death toll, but the World Health Organization estimates somewhere in the ballpark of 4,000 deaths were caused as a direct result of the incident and the fallout. There have been almost that many cases of thyroid cancer in the area and most cases came from people who were children or teenagers at the time of the meltdown. That's without taking mutations into consideration. Farmers noted around 400 deformities like extra limbs in their livestock.
Yet, not everything is bad. Because of the lack of human activity in the area, the wolf population has increased and the local Lynx has made a comeback. Not only that, but the plant life in the area has thrived. As of 2010, the actual blast-site and the nearby town of Pripyat have been opened to tourists.