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The international nuclear watchdog has revealed that it has lost contact with workers in Ukrainian power plant Chernobyl.
Hostages were taken at the nuclear plant - which is located 60 miles north of Kyiv - who are reported as having been forced to continue work while only on one meal a day and two hours of sleep.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAE) has since voiced its concern for the reported 210 members of staff held within the plant, after realising 'remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl NPP had been lost'.
#Ukraine has told IAEA it's becoming increasingly urgent and important — for the safe management of the #Chornobyl nuclear power plant — to rotate the ≈210 personnel and guards that have been working at the site for almost two weeks. https://t.co/oRLAjY5RXd pic.twitter.com/8neWHC8Lqz— IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency (@iaeaorg) March 8, 2022
After having lost access for nearly two weeks, workers at the plant were only able to be contacted 'via email,' according to Ukraine's state regulator, Metro reports.
As of today (8 March), Chernobyl's workers have been stuck inside the plant for 13 days.
As per the IAEA's website, its Director General Rafael Grossi stated: "I’m deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety.
"I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there."
“I’m deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at #Chornobyl NPP and potential risks this entails for nuclear safety. I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there,” @rafaelmgrossi— IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency (@iaeaorg) March 8, 2022
Grossi also raised his concerns at a meeting on 2 March, held between the IAEA's Board of Governors.
He noted that the mounting pressure Chernobyl staff members were facing directly risked the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security.
According to the IAEA, the handling of the plant's nuclear material has been temporarily put on hold, however the situation for staff is 'worsening'.
In a bid to help the staff being held captive in the plant, the IAEA has appealed to both Ukraine and Russia, offering to hold talks between the two to try and enforce some sort of shift rotation or replacement of staff members.
Grossi has even said that he is willing to travel to the plant himself to try and reach some sort of solution.
Eight of Ukraine's 15 nuclear reactors are currently still in operation, the IAEA has reported.
This includes the two Zaporizhzhya plants which were also captured by Russian forces last week.
However, it is reported that the sites have normal radiation levels.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information.
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