Russian forces on Thursday stormed a town in southern Ukraine that was hit by flooding after a dam broke, Ukrainian officials said, prompting some rescue efforts to be suspended. Did. Survey the damage.
Fighting resumed two days after the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnieper River, prompting steps to evacuate residents from dozens of flooded areas and provide aid.
Officials on both sides said at least 14 people had died in the floods. After the dam broke, thousands of people became homeless and thousands were left without water. Kiev accused Moscow of blowing up the dam and its hydroelectric power plant, which was under the control of Kremlin forces, while Russia claimed that Ukraine bombed it.
The floods have ruined crops, displaced land mines, caused widespread environmental damage and set the stage for long-term power shortages. Exclusive drone footage from The Associated Press showed the dilapidated dam collapsing into the river, submerging hundreds of homes, greenhouses and even a church.
Upstream of the dam, the supply of water used to cool Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was approaching critically low levels, the Ukrainian state hydroelectric company reported. But the UN nuclear energy watchdog said on Wednesday that work has already begun to ensure that the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has enough reserve water to cool its shuttered reactors in case supplies drop too low. .
Zelensky’s office noted that Moscow forces continued to attack Ukrainian-controlled areas near the nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control.
The floods brought further misery and death to a country already facing countless casualties after 15 months of war.
Vladimir Leontiev, the Moscow-appointed mayor of Novaya Kakhovka, a town near the Russian-occupied dam, told Russian state television that five of its residents had died in the flood. And the governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaly Kim, said one person was killed in that area, northwest of the city of Kherson.
Yevgen Rishchuk, mayor of the southern city of Oleshki, who fled after the city was captured by the Russians, told The Associated Press that residents had told him eight people had died so far in floodwaters and bodies were floating. Were staying , Their count could not be verified.
Residents of Olesky have accused the town’s Russian authorities of not doing enough to help civilians, and have formed a group of more than 8,000 people who share messages with information such as stranded and stranded residents.
Rishchuk said the Russian military was not allowing people to leave the city and instead was confiscating boats of residents and volunteers. This was confirmed by two volunteers, who told the AP that Russian forces were taking away the boats brought by the volunteers. Volunteer Yaroslav Vasiliev said the Russian military confiscated three boats from the volunteers on Wednesday.
From afar, relatives of the Olesky residents said that the Russian army was only evacuating people with Russian passports.
“My relatives said Russian soldiers came home by boat today, but they said they would only take people with Russian passports,” Victoria Mironova-Baka, 32, told the AP by phone from Germany.
In the city of Kherson, the largest area affected by the floods, the Russian attacks were not far from a square where emergency teams and volunteers were delivering aid. Nine people were injured, including two emergency workers, a policeman, a doctor and a German volunteer.
Officials told the AP that as soon as the shells hit floodwaters, rescuers stopped trying to reach residents and pets trapped in the area.
“The attacks began during the evacuation of residents whose homes were inundated,” the interior ministry said. “Russia has abandoned the disenfranchised population in the occupied part of the Kherson region. It prevents Ukraine from saving the most valuable thing: human life.”
His office said Zelensky visited an aid distribution point and medical center in Kherson, ordering officials to provide an “impartial assessment” of the devastation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has no plans at the moment” to visit the affected areas under Moscow’s control.
Vladimir Saldo, the governor of the region appointed by Moscow to oversee the Russian-occupied territory, accused Ukrainian troops of firing at an evacuation point in Hola Priston, a town under Russian control. Saldo said in a Telegram post that two people, including a 33-year-old pregnant woman, were killed and two others were injured. It was not possible to verify your version at this time.
Fighting has intensified along more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of the front line from Kherson to Ukraine’s border with Russia, prompting some experts and officials to say it could be part of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Kiev has said it will not announce the launch of any such operation.
The destruction of the dam forced the United Nations and local officials to point out that the most pressing concerns in the affected areas were access to drinking water and the avoidance of contact with water contaminated with explosives and industrial chemicals.
According to officials, over 6,000 people have been evacuated on both sides of the river. The true scale of the disaster in an area that was once home to more than 60,000 people is still unknown.
In areas under their control, Russian officials announced that more than twenty people had been hospitalised, 4,280 had been evacuated and 14,000 buildings had been flooded.
Russian officials pointed out that the destruction of the dam would disrupt supplies of drinking water to southern Ukraine and Crimea, which are controlled by Russia, although the peninsula currently has sufficient drinking water, with its reserves 80% full. ,
After Ukrainian authorities cut off water supplies to Crimea after Moscow illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014, Putin cited the need to restore supplies as one of the main reasons for the decision to invade Ukraine.
The region’s governor, Aleksandr Prokudin, said about 600 square kilometers (231 sq mi) of territory had been submerged, more than two-thirds of which was on the east bank of the Dnieper River, which is controlled by Russia.
Belarusian President and key Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko said Kiev blew up the dam in what he described as a failed attempt to launch its own counter-offensive.
Ukrainian officials have remained largely silent on recent battlefield events amid growing reports of escalating fighting that could escalate into a long-awaited retaliatory strike.
Michael Kofman of the Center for Naval Analysis – a US research group – said on a podcast on Wednesday that the fighting had taken a “more qualitative turn” with Ukrainian forces launching an offensive near the eastern city of Velika. Novosilka and other points in the south of the Donetsk region, as well as on its border with Zaporizhia province.
“I don’t think these attacks are the main offensive effort, but they represent what I think is the beginning of the Ukrainian offensive,” he explained.
Ukrainian Armed Forces spokesman Valery Shershen acknowledged “increased activity” in the Zaporizhia region, but said he would “not consider it serious.”
Keaton reported from Kiev. Ilya Novikov in Kiev, Joanna Kozlovska in London, Alice Morton in Thessaloniki, Greece, Yuras Karmanu in Tallinn, Estonia and Hanna Arhirova in Warsaw, Poland contributed to this report.