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Only on AP: Central Europe readies for potential nuclear fallout

Ewa Karpinska, spokesperson for the steel production plant ArcelorMittal Warsaw, shows an old map in a Cold War shelter under the plant in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Fighting around Ukraine's nuclear power plants and Russia's threats to use nuclear weapons have reawakened nuclear fears in Europe. This is especially felt in countries near Ukraine, like Poland, where the government this month ordered an inventory of the country's shelters as a precaution. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

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Vanessa Gera, Vadim Ghirda and the central Europe team made AP the first major news organization to take a serious look at readiness in the countries most likely to be affected, as fighting around Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons reawaken nuclear fears in Europe.

Some of Ukraine’s neighboring countries have started distributing potassium iodide pills, and officials are preparing old Soviet-era nuclear shelters for possible use.

After two weeks spent persuading authorities to give AP’s journalists access to the underground shelters,Warsaw,Poland,correspondent Gera and colleagues reported comprehensively and responsibly for all formats on European readiness for a possible nuclear attack. The team was careful to avoid sensationalizing the coverage or raising unnecessary fears on an already anxious continent.

Contributors included Eldar Emric and Armin Durgut in Konjic,Bosnia; Karel Janicek in Prague; Bela Szandelszky and Anna Szilagyi in Budapest,Hungary; Michal Dyjuk in Warsaw,Poland; Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen,Denmark; Jari Tanner in Helsinki,Finland; and Nicolae Dumitrache in Bucharest, Romania.

Photos from Poland,Romania,Hungary and Bosnia,with exclusive access to some of the shelters,were edited by Romania-based photographer Ghirda,while video footage was edited into three different pieces over the span of a week.

The engaging, visually rich AP story was cited in Politico and widely used by global media outlets.

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