Tens of thousands of people in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine are at risk of being flooded after an enormous dam was destroyed, with Ukraine accusing Russia of deliberately blowing up the facility.
The Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River spanning the Ukrainian-Russian frontlines in southern Ukraine was breached in a huge explosion Tuesday morning unleashing a wall of water that authorities fear could cause extensive damage around the city of Kherson and other low lying areas. By late morning, footage on social media showed most of the dam and hydroelectric facility were completely submerged.
Ukrainian officials warned tens of thousands of people in and around Kherson city – which was liberated from Russian forces by Ukraine last fall – that they face severe flooding threats and should immediately move to higher ground before floodwater peaks around the city in the coming hours.
The destruction of the dam, one of Ukraine’s biggest facilities, threatens water supplies to both Russian-occupied Crimea and Ukraine’s largest nuclear facility, Zaporizhzhia, located about 100 miles upstream. The International Atomic Energy Agency in Geneva issued a statement that there was no immediate threat to the facility but would continue to monitor the situation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed Russia for what he described as an act of “terrorism,” and repeated his warnings last year that destruction of the dam by Russia would amount to the use of a weapon of mass destruction. Zelenskyy also called emergency sessions of Ukraine’s national security committees to address the still unfolding catastrophe.
“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 said via Telegram. “Not a single metre should be left to them, because they use every metre for terror. It’s only Ukraine’s victory that will return security.”
Russia rejected the accusation that it had blown up the dam via the Tass News Agency and said the explosions were the work of Ukrainian commandos intent on flooding the Russian-held south bank of the river as part of an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive in the region.
The facility, which provided electricity to much of southern Ukraine as well as diverting water to Crimea, has been completely destroyed, according to Ukraine’s hydro-electric authority, with major damage to equipment and the loss of the reservoir – currently draining into Ukrainian farmland – to operate the water-driven turbines.
Aerial footage taken by drone of the dam early Tuesday morning showed a massive flow of water through a breach spanning hundreds of feet. The dam had controlled flooding in some of Ukraine’s most low lying areas and marshland, leaving the situation potentially dire as rescuers try to reach potentially stranded villages and farms. Footage of beavers fleeing the oncoming flood in Kherson was posted to social media, highlighting the potential environmental catastrophe unfolding.
The post ‘Terrorists’: Ukraine Accuses Russia of Blowing Up Huge Dam appeared first on VICE.