Ukraine Dam Collapse: 42,000 at risk from flooding, UN warns of ‘grave consequences’
Hours after a major hydroelectric dam near Ukraine-occupied Kherson collapsed early Tuesday, a mass evacuation process began for roughly 42,000 people who Kyiv predicted were at risk from flooding. Floodwaters have since been gushing through a massive portion of the war zone, compelling thousands to escape.
While both Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for blowing up the structure, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths has raised concerns over “grave and far-reaching consequences.” Ukraine accuses Russian forces of committing an act of “ecocide”, while Moscow said Kyiv tried to distract from the launch of a major counteroffensive it says is gradually losing momentum.
Griffiths raised warnings before the Security Council about the dam breach posing threats to houses, food, safe water and livelihoods of thousands in southern Ukraine on both sides of the frontline. The Soviet-era Nova Kakhovka dam powered a hydroelectric station. The true impact of the catastrophe will only become fully evident in the coming days, he added.
While so far, there have been no reports of deaths from the incident, US spokesperson John Kirby said the flooding had potentially killed many. According to Ukrainian officials, around 42,000 people were at risk from the flooding, which was expected to peak Wednesday. “Everything is floating. I do not know what to do,” one of the residents near the dam said.
Water levels in Kherson city increased by 3.5 m on Tuesday, compelling scores of locals to escape through water up to their knees, carrying small pets in carriers and possessions in plastic bags. While Washington said it was unclear who blew up the dam, Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood said Ukraine destroying the structure wouldn’t make sense.