Russia blows up major dam near Kherson, massive flood unleashed: Kyiv
The Ukrainian government has blamed Russian strikes for blowing up the Soviet-era Nova Kakhovka dam near Ukraine-occupied Kherson, and called on people living downstream to immediately evacuate amid risks of catastrophic flooding.
Aerial footage going viral on social media shows a major portion of the dam wall washed away and an alarming level of water heading downstream to inundate almost everything.
The army’s Southern Operational Command accused Russia of destroying the dam in a Facebook post, while adding the scale of the destruction and the probable areas of inundation are being determined.
The disaster happened on the second day of Ukrainian offensive operations likely to mark the early stages of a mass counteroffensive. The “obvious” purpose is to introduce major hurdles on the way of the advancing Ukrainian army, tweeted Zelensky’s adviser Mikhailo Podolyak.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called an emergency meeting of his national security council.
Local Russian authorities in Nova Kakhovka initially rejected claims of anything to have happened to the hydroelectric dam, then blamed Ukrainian shelling for the structure’s collapse.
However, an unidentified official from the Kherson emergency services blamed the incident on the dam’s structural weakness under water pressure, according to Interfax news agency.
A Soviet power project, the dam was completed in 1956 and was 30 m high, holding 18 million cubic metres of water. Last month, it was reported that water levels in the reservoir had reached a 30-year high, as Russia had kept just a few sluice gates open, according to experts.
In addition to inundation, there could be two more dramatic side effects from the collapse – first, as water levels in the dam drop, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant upstream could lose access to water for cooling, and second, the water supply to Crimea could also drop massively.