first photo of the reactor

Igor KOSTIN back from Afghanistan, he began to work periodically for Novosti from the Kiev branch. He reported on local and trans-Soviet matters but rarely left the state. On the late evening of 26 April 1986 a helicopter pilot whom he worked closely with for his journalistic activities alerted him that there had been a fire at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. The fire had been extinguished by the time they arrived at Chernobyl via helicopter, and witnessed a war-like scramble of military vehicles and power plant personnel down at the scene of the nuclear power plant. He also experienced an odd feeling combined with high temperature and toxic smog, that was unusual for an accident scene. The motor of his cameras began to exhibit symptoms of radioactive-caused degradation after around 20 shots. The helicopter returned to Kiev after the cameras' failure.

Kostin managed to develop the films, only to realise that all but one was unsalvageable - most of the films were affected by the high level of radiation, that caused the photographs to appear entirely black, resembling a film that was exposed to light pre-maturely. Kostin's only photograph of the nuclear power plant was sent to Novosti in Moscow, but he did not receive a permit to publish it until 5 May 1986. His visit to Chernobyl was illegal and not sanctioned by the authorities. Pravda published limited information about the accident on 29 April 1986, but did not publish Kostin's photographs.