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february 13, 2013 • 09:05 AM • last update 09:12 AM

Structure collapses at Chernobyl, Ukraine says no danger

A view shows a partially damaged exterior construction of the engine room of unit number 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant February 13, 2013.
Foto: Stringer / Reuters

Part of a structure next to the damaged nuclear reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl power plant has collapsed, the authorities said on Wednesday, adding there were no injuries or any increase in radiation levels.

The Emergencies Ministry said Tuesday's collapse was not of the sarcophagus covering the reactor, but part of the wall and roof of a turbine hall that caved in under the weight of snow.

"There were no safety breaches," the ministry said in a statement.

The power plant's administration said in a separate statement: "There has been no change in the radiation levels at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant industrial area and in the exclusion zone. No one was injured."

The power plant - which stopped running its reactors in 2000 - was the site of the worst nuclear power disaster in history in April 1986 when one of its reactors exploded during a safety experiment, sending out a plume of highly radioactive fallout.

Large areas of Ukraine and neighboring Belarus were contaminated.

Ukraine is now building a new structure around the old sarcophagus aimed at preventing leaks from the hastily built and ageing shelter.

French construction groups Vinci and Bouygues, who are building the 30,000 tonne confinement shelter under a joint venture called Novarka, said they had evacuated the roughly 80 workers at the construction site as a precaution.

Reuters Terra