Villagers flee floods as the massive Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine’s war zone is destroyed

  • A Soviet-era dam supplies water to the Crimean nuclear power plant
  • Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the dam collapse
  • UN Atomic Energy Agency: There are no immediate nuclear safety risks
  • Russia conducts more air strikes overnight on Kiev

KHERSON, Ukraine (Reuters) – A torrent of water poured through a huge dam on the Dnipro River separating Russian and Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine on Tuesday, flooding an area of ​​the war zone and forcing villagers to flee.

Ukraine has accused Russia of blowing up the Nova Kakhovka Dam, a deliberate war crime. The Kremlin said it was Ukraine that sabotaged the dam, to divert attention from a major counterattack that Moscow says is faltering. Some of the officials installed in Russia said the dam burst on its own.

Neither side provided immediate public evidence of who was to blame. The Geneva Conventions explicitly ban Targeting dams in the war because of the danger to civilians.

By mid-morning in the city of Kherson in the Ukrainian government-controlled area downstream from the dam, the wharf on a tributary of the Dnieper was already flooded.

“Our local school and playground in the city center were flooded,” Lydia Zubova, 67, who was waiting for a train to leave the city after abandoning her flooded village, told Reuters. “The whole road was flooded and our bus broke down.”

Ukrainian police released a video showing an officer carrying an elderly woman to safety and others rescuing dogs in villages being evacuated as water levels rose. Interior Minister Ihor Klimenko accused Russia of shelling areas where people were being evacuated and said two police officers were wounded.

On the Russian-controlled bank of the Dnipro River, the Moscow-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka said the water level had risen to 11 meters (36 feet). Residents contacted by phone told Reuters that some had decided to stay even though the Russian occupiers had ordered them out.

See also  Russian forces retreat amid Ukrainian counter-offensive

“They say they are ready to shoot without warning,” said a local man, Hleb, describing encounters with Russian forces. “If I get a meter closer than what is allowed, they immediately start shouting obscenities. We are still allowed to go to the store, but we don’t know what orders will come next.”

Yevgenia, a citizen, said that the water was up to the knees of the Russian soldiers who were walking down the main street in high rubber boots. She said, “If you try to go somewhere they don’t allow, they immediately point their machine guns at you.” “More and more water comes every hour. It’s so dirty.”

A representative said via the zoo’s Facebook account that the Kazkova Dibrova Zoo on the Russian-controlled riverbank was completely flooded and all 300 animals had died.

The dam provides water to a wide swath of farmland in southern Ukraine, including Russian-occupied Crimea, as well as cooling the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear plant.

The vast reservoir behind the dam is a major geographic feature of southern Ukraine, measuring 240 km (150 miles) long and up to 23 km (14 miles) wide.

An expanse of countryside extends into the flood plain below, with the low-lying villages on the Russian-held south bank particularly vulnerable.


the Dam The devastation has raised fears of a new humanitarian catastrophe in the middle of the war zone and shifted front lines as Ukraine prepares to launch a long-awaited counter-offensive to drive Russian forces from its territory.

Russia has controlled the dam since early in its 15-month invasion, although Ukrainian forces retook the northern bank of the Dnipro last year. Both sides have long accused the other of plotting to destroy the dam.

See also  Oops! Austria's Social Democrats announce the wrong winner in leadership contest - POLITICO
A general view of the breached Nova Kakhovka Dam in Kherson region, Ukraine on June 6, 2023 in this screenshot from video obtained by Reuters/via Reuters

“Russian terrorists. The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station dam only confirms to the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of the Ukrainian territory,” President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Zelensky said the Russians “carried out an internal explosion of the dam’s facilities.” About 80 settlements are in the flood zone.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called it “an outrage that once again shows the brutality of Russia’s war in Ukraine”.

Ukraine and Russia accused each other on June 6 of blowing up a dam and causing widespread flooding in southern Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blamed “intentional sabotage by the Ukrainian side”.

“Obviously, this sabotage is also connected with the fact that, having begun large-scale offensive operations two days ago, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are now not achieving their goals.”

Earlier, Russia officials gave conflicting accounts, with some saying that the dam was hit by Ukrainian missiles overnight, while others said it had exploded on its own due to previous damage.


The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said the Zaporizhia power plant, which lies upriver on the Russian-controlled bank of the reservoir, should have enough water to cool its reactors “for a few months” from a separate pond, even as the huge reservoir drains.

A video showed water flowing through the remains of the dam – which is 30 meters (yards) high and 3.2 kilometers (two miles) long.

The RIA news agency quoted the head of the region appointed by Moscow as saying that about 22,000 people living in 14 settlements in the Kherson region are at risk of flooding.

Crimea’s Russia-installed governor, Sergei Aksionov, said there was a risk that the water level in the canal carrying fresh water to the Black Sea peninsula could drop. Crimea, which Russia has held since 2014, has sufficient water reserves for now and the danger will become clear in the coming days.

See also  Russo-Ukrainian war: civilians evacuate the Mariupol Azovstal plant | war news between russia and ukraine

Zelensky said in an interview published on Saturday that Ukraine was preparing to launch its much-heralded major counter-offensive using newly supplied Western battle tanks and armored vehicles.

Moscow said the Ukrainian offensive began on Sunday and claimed it had repulsed a third day of Ukrainian advances.

Kyiv has maintained a deliberate ambiguity about it even though Zelensky hinted at successes. In a speech the evening before the dam collapsed, he hailed the “news we’ve been waiting for” claiming moves forward around Bakhmut, the ruined city captured by Russia earlier this month.

Russia also carried out a new wave of night air strikes on Kiev. Ukraine said its air defense systems shot down more than 20 cruise missiles as they approached the capital.

Local authorities said the Shchebykino district in Russia’s Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border has come under renewed shelling. Russian anti-government fighters based in Ukraine claim to have captured villages there.

Reporting from the Reuters offices of Lydia Kelly and Ron Popesky; Writing by Stephen Coates and Gareth Jones; Editing by Michael Berry, Peter Graff, and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *