There's been no shortage of help offered, but the Russians haven't yet fully explained what happened, what they're doing about it and how extensive the casualties are for the West to be able to gauge what they really need. Approaches from Moscow have been tentative - often through intermediaries - and they've left those who work in the Western nuclear industries with a feeling of impotence.
Britain has sent anti-radiation suits to protect the emergency crews and Mrs Thatcher says it will help in any other way it can. The Americans have offered a wealth of technical, scientific and medical help - including helicopters that map the spread of radiation and a computer to predict its path. But so far, the Russians have only accepted the help of a team of bone marrow specialists. West German experts were approached for advice on how to control the fire. They've also been asked how far a concrete floor can contain a molten mass above it. But can't answer until they're given specific details. However, two remote controlled robots from West Germany are on their way to Chernobyl. There's been no reply yet to France's offer of medical teams and other help - yet the French think their expertise with graphite reactors may be useful. The Swedes, who were the first to be asked for technical advice - have now been told that the Russians can cope on their own.
One of the biggest headaches that Moscow may have to face is a shortage of food because of contamination. Although Poland has asked for powdered milk and some other basics, the Russians have not made any such formal request either to individual European countries or to the Common Market.