Four sieverts is lethal for half of those affected. Yuvchenko was then shipped off to Moscow. He stayed outside, propping the heavy reactor hall door open with his shoulder. By now all were experiencing the effects of radiation to their lungs, nose, ears and throats. We met a guy with a doseometer and the needle was just off the dial. Nobody knows quite how radiation produces its early effects of nausea and diarrhoea. It was a beautiful evening, particularly warm and clear, and Yuvchenko, an engineer-mechanic, and his workmates were full of their plans for the upcoming May Day holidays.
Those champion muscles were his saviour.
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Those who died quickly were lucky. When Yuvchenko arrived, his head was shaved, but within days all his body hair fell out anyway. Yuvchenko received the first of many transfusions. But there was a man there who'd been involved in a nuclear accident in the submarine fleet, he said it was more serious than that.