The Building That Gave Its Residents Leukemia

 Building No. 7 on Gvardtsiv Kantemirovtsiv Street (now known as Mariy Primachenko Street) in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, was the most recent addition to the block. Equipped with elevators and running hot water, this apartment complex exudes a level of luxury not typically seen in Soviet-era residential buildings.

The first family came here in 1980. They couldn't have expected more. It was definitely one of the best apartments in the city. However, their joy was short-lived.

Just a year after arriving, their 18-year-old teenage daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and died within a few months. The family had just recovered from the tragedy when their 16-year-old son contracted the same terrible disease and died shortly afterward. This was followed by another death – that of his mother and the third victim of leukemia.

The family wondered whether the apartment was cursed, but the story of the mysterious affliction did not find a wide audience, and doctors attributed the illness to poor heredity. The family soon moved out, and the city executive committee gave the keys to the apartment to another family.

In 1987, tragedy struck residents again. Their teenage son died of leukemia, and his younger brother was in critical condition in hospital. The worried father demanded an investigation.

It was not until two years later that officials were confident enough to send a team of investigators with dosimeters. They found high levels of radiation in the apartment. Especially in the room where the children slept, the radiation levels were off the charts. Investigators eventually discovered that the radiation was coming from the walls. The residents of the building were immediately evacuated and the wall was demolished. The piece of concrete was sent to the Kyiv Institute for Nuclear Research where scientists extracted a small capsule containing highly radioactive cesium 137, which is used in radiation level gauges.

From the serial number imprinted on the capsule it was established that the object was lost in a quarry from which gravel was taken for the construction of apartments. By a terrible coincidence, the capsule mixed with the concrete and became stuck inside the walls between apartments 85 and 52, close to the children's beds, resulting in a tragedy in which four people lost their lives. Ultimately, seventeen other people were identified as having received varying doses of radiation and were treated accordingly.

Building 7 is still standing today and people still live in it. Radiation levels have now returned to natural levels.

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