Zelensky Says Russia Blew Up Dam as Thousands Evacuated from Flood

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More than 17,000 people are being evacuated after a major dam in Ukraine was breached. Ukraine’s President Zelensky says the dam was “mined by Russian occupiers” who “blew it up”. Moscow denies this and has claimed Ukraine damaged the dam in a “deliberate act of sabotage”. At least 24 different settlements in the Kherson region are already flooded, Ukraine’s interior ministry says.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Nova Kakhovka district and the water level is reported to have risen to more than 11m (36ft). EU Council President Charles Michel blamed the attack on Russia, saying the destruction of civilian infrastructure was a “war crime” Moscow and Kyiv traded blame for ripping a gaping hole in the Kakhovka dam as expectations built over the start of Ukraine’s long-awaited offensive.

People in the neighbouring city of Kherson were heading for higher ground as the water levels rose in the Dnipro River, which was held back by the dam and hydro powerplant. “There is shooting, now there is flooding,” said Lyudmyla, who had loaded a washing machine onto a cart that was attached to an old Soviet car. Vladimir Leontyev, the Russian-installed mayor of the town of Nova Kakhovka where the dam is located, said residents of “around 300 homes” had been evacuated.

On the Russian-occupied side of the Kherson region, officials said there was “no threat” of major population centres being flooded, but said that more than 22,000 people were at risk. The Kakhovka dam and its hydropowerplant were seized by Russia in the first hours of the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said the “world must react” to the Kakhovka dam attack, blaming Russia for the breach which has caused extensive flooding. “The world must react,” he said on social media, adding that Russia had carried out “an internal explosion of the structures” of the plant at 2:50 am local time (2350 GMT).

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An attack on a major Russian-held dam in southern Ukraine earlier Tuesday unleashed a torrent of water that flooded a small city, and two dozen villages and sent hundreds fleeing.

Russia insists that the dam was partially destroyed by “multiple strikes” coming from Ukrainian forces.

Source: BBC News