Conflicts & War

State of emergency declared after dam explosion in southern Ukraine

Moscow/Kyiv, Jun 6 (EFE).- A state of emergency has been declared after a dam on the Dnieper River was damaged and released floodwaters into a Russian-occupied town in southern Ukraine on Tuesday.

The measure entered into force in Nova Kakhovka at 12.00 (9.00 GMT), Russian-appointed mayor Vladimir Leontyev said after the explosion provoked fears of widespread flooding in the region, home to millions of people on either side of the river.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed the destruction of the dam on “Russian terrorists.”

“The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror. It’s only Ukraine’s victory that will return security. And this victory will come.

“The terrorists will not be able to stop Ukraine with water, missiles or anything else.”

The Ukrainian military also accused Russian forces of blowing up the Soviet-era Kakhovka dam, 30 km east of Kherson city, while the Russian-backed administration in the region said Ukrainian forces attacked it.

“The Kakhovka HPP was blown up by the Russian occupying forces. The scale of the destruction, the speed and volume of water, the probable areas of flooding are currently being established,” the military said.

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian presidential chief of staff, said the Russians had committed “ecocide” by destroying the dam.

“The destruction of the (dam) is the biggest man-made disaster in the world in recent decades, which negatively affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the years to come,” Yermak said.

The blast at the dam has caused a serious reduction in the water level of the reservoir used to cool the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant; however, there is “no immediate risk” to its safety, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi said.

“Water in the reservoir was at around 16.4 m at 8 am. If drops below 12.7 m then it can no longer be pumped,” Grossi explained.

“Absence of cooling water in the essential cooling water systems for an extended period of time would cause fuel melt and inoperability of the emergency diesel generators,” he added.

Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Ukrainian regional military, said the evacuation of residents at risk of flooding had begun.

“They are willing to do anything to raise the stakes in this war. Today’s Russia is a global threat,” he pointed out, warning that the floodwaters would reach a critical level before the evening on Tuesday.

He addressed the residents of the occupied left bank of the river, urging them to make every effort to save their lives.

Leontyev said the extent of the destruction at the power plant was “very serious and restoring it will be comparable to building it from scratch,” calling it a “serious act of terrorism.”

“There were several hits at two o’clock in the morning in the upper part of the hydroelectric power plant, where the flashboards are located, where the valves are, and it was destroyed,” Leontyev said.

“Right now one cannot tell that it will be very easy to restore it. Apparently, it will require the same construction of the Kakhovka HPP as in 1950-1956,” he told a local TV channel.

According to the mayor, at least 300 homes could be affected by the partial destruction of the power plant.

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