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US Pledges $10 Million to Chernobyl Survivors

Construction workers assist in the assembly of a gigantic steel arch to cover the remnants of the exploded reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, March 23, 2016.

The United States pledged $10 million to aid those affected by the fallout of the Chernobyl disaster, as Ukraine marks the 30th anniversary of what is described as the world's worst nuclear accident.

An April 26, 1986, explosion at Chernobyl's No. 4 reactor forced the evacuation 350,000 residents working and living in the surrounding area.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby said Monday the funds will "help ensure the safety of future generations who live in the affected area."

The pledge comes on top of more than $400 million the United States has committed to the international effort to help Ukraine restore the site of the accident to an environmentally safe and secure condition.

About 40 nations have contributed to the $2.3 billion New Safe Confinement project, which is building a long-term shelter over the building containing Chernobyl's destroyed reactor.

Once the structure is in place, work will begin to remove the reactor and the lava-like radioactive waste.

The official short-term death toll from the accident was 31, but thousands more people have died of radiation-related illnesses such as cancer.

The total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate.

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