The impact of Tuesday’s breach of a major dam in Ukraine is likely worse than outlined in a widely-shared model of the disaster developed last year, engineers said.
On Tuesday morning, videos of water flooding through a massive breach in the Kakhokva Nova hydroelectric dam in southern Ukraine were widely shared, with Ukraine and Russia blaming each other for the disaster.
In the wake of the news, animated maps created in October last year by Swedish engineers Dämningsverket have widely recirculated on social media.
The scenario as initially outlined was already grave. In that instance, a wave up to 16 feet high was predicted to reach the city of Kherson — the largest settlement in its path about 20 miles west — within 19 hours, New Civil Engineer reported, on the basis of the Dämningsverket model.
A further map showed the modeling in the case of three different scales of breach, each marked by a different color:
Henrik Ölander-Hjalmarsson of Dämningsverket, who made the model, said it was a “rough” attempt that is inaccurate today — and that the real-life situation will now be worse.
He told Insider: “The real dam break looks worse than the scenario I modeled because of higher water levels in the reservoir than what I had anticipated.”
Water levels in the reservoir reached a 30-year high in May, per The New York Times.
Ölander-Hjalmarsson said that what has occurred is a massive disaster. “I’m deeply saddened the Russians have done this,” he said, adding: “The modeled assumptions I made are underestimated.”
Discussions of potential scenarios if the dam was breached were prompted in October last year when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had received intelligence that Russian forces had rigged the dam with mines.
Insider was unable to verify this claim, and it is not immediately clear who is responsible for the destruction of the dam.