|People attend a commemoration marking the 27th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Kiev, capital of Ukraine, April 26, 2013. The world's worst nuclear accident happened in Chernobyl on April 26, 1986. (Xinhua/Mu Liming)
KIEV, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine on Friday marked the 27 anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster with somber ceremonies and moments of silence nationwide.
Commemorations kicked off in Kiev in the early hours with attendance of high-ranking officials, who laid flowers at the Chernobyl memorial.
In his address to the nation, President Viktor Yanukovych called on the people to honor the memory of all Chernobyl victims and properly commemorate their achievements.
"Ukraine today honors the heroes, who at various times, selflessly saved our land and prevented the spread of the deadly danger," Yanukovych said.
The president said the state will protect all the people hurt by the tragedy, which resulted in the destruction of the No. 4 reactor and a spread of radiation across Europe and former Soviet countries.
Ukraine has lost around 180 billion U.S. dollars over the past decades due to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Yanukovych said during a visit to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
"This amount is comparable to the annual gross domestic product of our country," he noted.
Yanukovych expressed gratitude to the international community for pledging 790 million dollars for the construction of a new shelter over Chernobyl facilities at the donor conference on April 19, 2011.
Ukraine, he said, is working hard to transform the disaster site into an ecologically safe system.
Yanukovych also said that this year Ukraine will allocate around 328 million dollars from its budget as financial assistance for the people hurt by the nuclear accident.
The April 26, 1986, disaster has rendered vast places in Ukraine and Belarus uninhabitable. In Ukraine alone, the contaminated area reached more than 50,000 square km.