A major dam in southern Ukraine has collapsed, unleashing a flood of water that threatens thousands of people and a nuclear power plant. The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, located in the Russian-controlled area of Nova Kakhovka, was destroyed by an explosion that both sides blame on each other. The dam held water equal to the Great Salt Lake in the US state of Utah.
Ukrainian forces sabotaged the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in Russia’s Kherson Region in a bid to deprive Crimea of drinking water and distract from Kiev’s faltering counteroffensive, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed on Tuesday. The act of sabotage may lead to “very serious consequences,” Dmitry Peskov has warned.
Water surged through the gap and flooded downstream areas, including eight villages that have been fully or partially submerged. About 16,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from low-lying lands along the Dnipro river.
The flood also poses a serious risk to the environment and the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear plant in Europe. The plant relies on the reservoir to supply water for its cooling operations. The International Atomic Energy Agency said that if the water level falls below a certain point, it can no longer be pumped to the plant’s cooling system. The plant’s reactors have been shut down for months, but they still require cooling to prevent a meltdown.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the dam collapse an “outrageous act” by Russia and accused Moscow of unleashing the “largest man-made environmental disaster in Europe in decades”. He said that 150 tonnes of industrial lubricant had contaminated the river and another 300 tonnes were at risk of leaking. He also vowed to rebuild the dam and restore electricity and water supply to the region.
Russia denied any involvement in the dam collapse and blamed Ukraine for firing on the dam overnight. Moscow also accused Kyiv of using the incident as a pretext to escalate tensions and justify its military buildup near the border.
This is a developing story.