MOSCOW — A huge construction project is under way so that more than 25,000 families evacuated from around the devastated Chernobyl nuclear reactor can be given new homes elsewhere by fall, the newspaper Pravda reported Wednesday.
The Communist Party daily paper also said that a new settlement for 10,000 Chernobyl workers is being built outside the evacuation zone.
About 100,000 people were evacuated from an 18-mile radius around the plant in the Soviet Ukraine after a chemical explosion and fire in the No. 4 reactor on April 26 spewed radioactivity into the air. It was not clear how many of the evacuees were accounted for in the Pravda figure of 25,000 families.
Not All Included
However, the newspaper indicated that its figure did not include all the evacuees, saying there are others whose future homes remain uncertain.
To date, the disaster has accounted for 28 deaths, most of those the result of radiation poisoning.
Pravda quoted a civil defense official identified only as I. Burov as saying radiation levels have still not returned to normal in Bargin, about 26 miles north of the plant.
The report said that because of wind patterns towns north of the crippled reactor received more radioactive fallout than those to the south, east or west.
More than 50,000 construction workers are taking part in the evacuee relocation program, Pravda and other news reports said.
7,250 Around Kiev
The program includes building 7,250 homes around Kiev, 60 miles south of the plant, and Zhitomir, about 100 miles southwest of it, and repairing another 6,000 existing homes, presumably empty, for use by evacuees, Pravda said.
The government newspaper Izvestia said last week that about 4,000 new homes were being built in nearby southern Byelorussia to house Chernobyl evacuees.
The Chernobyl evacuees now are spread throughout the southern Soviet Union. Many families have been divided, with the children, sometimes accompanied by their mothers, placed in summer camps at Black Sea resorts and other places.
Pravda said a settlement is being built about 25 miles south of the Chernobyl plant for 10,000 construction and operation workers at the facility. Most of the plant's workers had lived in Pripyat, the town closest to the plant and one of the communities that was evacuated.
One of Two Locations
The newspaper said the workers' families will be housed either in Kiev, where 7,500 apartments have been reserved for them, or in Chernigov, about 55 miles west of the plant, where 500 apartments are available.
Plant employees will be able to visit their families regularly, Pravda quoted Alexander Gamanyuk, Communist Party chief in Pripyat, as saying.
Officials have not said how many people worked at the four-reactor Chernobyl plant before the accident, and it was not clear how many of the employees would return if the plant's No. 1 and No. 2 reactors begin operating again in October, as planned.
The accident ruined No. 4 reactor and reportedly also damaged No. 3.