As the COVID-19 virus spread through China, “Chernobyl,” a hit docudrama in the United States last year, attracted growing interest from Chinese viewers. One chatroom post read: “People’s safety depends far more upon securing free information than on aircraft carriers, moon landings or a country’s superpower status.”

The docudrama centers on the April 26, 1986, nuclear accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union.

The Chernobyl accident remains the worst nuclear disaster in history. An explosion at the power plant’s No. 4 reactor discharged huge amounts of radioactive materials into the air, and prompted the evacuation and migration of 160,000 people. Fifty people, including plant operating staff, firefighters and other first responders to the accident, died from radiation exposure, while another 4,000 went on to die of radiation-related illnesses. Five years after the accident, the Soviet Union collapsed.