Ukraine says Russia has blown up a major dam and that floods are imminent and is ordering evacuations


Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russian forces of blowing up a large dam and hydroelectric power station in a part of southern Ukraine they control, causing massive flooding that could displace hundreds of thousands of people, and ordered the evacuation of residents downstream.

Russian news agency Tass quoted an unspecified Russian government official as saying the dam “collapsed” due to damage. Authorities deployed by Moscow in the region claimed the dam was partially destroyed by “multiple strikes” overnight, triggering an “uncontrollable” flow of water, Agence France-Presse reported.

Ukrainian authorities have previously warned that the dam’s failure could release 4.8 billion gallons of water and flood Kherson and dozens of other areas home to hundreds of thousands of people, and threaten a meltdown at a nearby Russian-held nuclear power plant.

According to Reuters news agency, Ukraine’s state nuclear agency said that the destruction of the dam endangered the nuclear power plant, but that the situation there is under control. The International Atomic Energy Association tweeted that there was “no immediate risk to nuclear safety” at the facility.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyj convened an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry wrote on Telegram that the Kakhovka Dam had been blown up and urged residents of ten villages on the right bank of the river and parts of the city of Kherson downstream to collect important documents and pets, turn off appliances and exercise caution against them possible disinformation.

Footage from what appeared to be a surveillance camera overlooking the dam circulated on social media reportedly showed lightning, an explosion and the dam breaching.

Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the Kherson regional military administration, said in a video posted to Telegram just before 7 a.m. local time (midnight EDT) that “the Russian army has committed another act of terrorism” and warned that water is “critical levels.” ‘ within five hours.

After the dam explosion, Zelenskyi requested an emergency meeting of the country’s Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the Council, wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine and Russia have previously accused each other of targeting the dam, and last October Zelenskyy predicted Russia would destroy the dam to trigger a flood.

Authorities, experts and local residents have been raising concerns about the flow of water through and over the Kakhovka Dam for months.

In February, water levels were so low that many feared a meltdown at the Russian-held Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, whose cooling systems are supplied with water from the Kakhovka reservoir contained by the dam.

In mid-May, after heavy rains and snowmelt, the water level rose above normal and flooded surrounding villages. Satellite images showed water pouring over damaged lock gates.

Ukraine controls five of the six dams along the Dnipro River, which runs from the northern border with Belarus to the Black Sea and is vital to the entire country’s drinking water and electricity supply. The Kakhovka Dam – the most downstream dam in the Kherson region – is controlled by Russian forces.

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