In early 2014, Danny Cooke traveled—with a crew from 60 Minutes—to Chernobyl, which was evacuated after a nuclear meltdown occurred there on April 26, 1986. The 20-mile swath of land, called The Zone, has been abandoned ever since. "Armed with a camera and a dosimeter geiger counter," Cooke writes on his Vimeo page, "I explored..." The result of that exploration is this incredible—and incredibly eerie—aerial footage of Chernobyl and nearby Pripyat using a drone.
"Chernobyl is one of the most interesting and dangerous places I've been," Cooke writes, noting that he was just a year old when the disaster occurred, and the devastating disaster affected life in Italy where he lived, thousands of miles away from Ukraine. "During my stay, I met so many amazing people, one of whom was my guide Yevgen, also known as a 'Stalker'. We spent the week together exploring Chernobyl and the nearby abandoned city of Pripyat. There was something serene, yet highly disturbing about this place. Time has stood still and there are memories of past happenings floating around us."
After the disaster—which was caused by explosions at Chernobyl's Reactor Number 4—the Soviets quickly built a sarcophagus around the damaged reactor, but nearly three decades later, that structure is crumbling; as correspondent Bob Simon notes in the 60 Minutes report, "Engineers say there is still enough radioactive material in there to cause widespread contamination. For the last five years a massive project has been underway to seal the reactor permanently. But the undertaking is three quarters of a billion dollars short and the completion date has been delayed repeatedly. ... There's still so much radiation coming from the reactor that workers have to construct the arch nearly a thousand feet away, shielded by a massive concrete wall. When finished, the arch will be slid into place around the Sarcophagus, then sealed up." You can see the full report, which aired on CBS on November 23, here.