KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces shelled a city in southern Ukraine on Thursday. Flooding from a devastating dam failure forced the suspension of some rescue operations hours after President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the area to assess the damage, Ukrainian officials said.
The new fighting came two days after the Kakhovka Dam collapsed. On the Dnieper, dozens of flooded areas have been evacuated and a scramble has begun to call for help from those still there.
Officials on both sides said at least 14 people had died in the floods. Thousands of others have become homeless, and tens of thousands have lost drinking water after the collapse. Kiev accused Russia of blowing up a dam and hydroelectric power plant controlled by Kremlin forces, but Russia claimed Ukraine had shelled it.
The ensuing floods destroyed crops, cleared landmines, caused widespread environmental destruction and contributed to long-term power shortages.Exclusive drone footage Footage captured by the Associated Press showed an abandoned dam plunged into the river, submerging hundreds of homes, greenhouses and even churches.
Ukraine’s state-owned hydropower company said the supply of water used to cool Europe’s largest nuclear power plant upstream from the dam is approaching critically low levels. But the UN’s nuclear watchdog on Thursday downplayed such concerns, saying the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant was pumping water to cool its shutdown reactors, reaching levels previously thought to be critically low. said it could fall below
The Zelensky president’s office said Russian forces also continued to shell Ukrainian-controlled areas near the Russian-controlled nuclear power plant.
After 15 months of war, Takamizu brought new misery and death to a country that suffered countless casualties.
Vladimir Leontiev, the Kremlin mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Nova Kakhovka, which borders the dam, told Russian state television that five people had died in the flood. Vitaly Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region, said one person had died in the area northwest of the city of Kherson.
Evgen Rishchuk, the mayor of southern Oreshki, who fled the town after it was occupied by Russian forces, told The Associated Press that residents had told the floods that eight people had died so far, with bodies floating on the water. Told. His tally was not immediately confirmed.
Residents of Oreshki have accused the town’s Russian authorities of not taking sufficient steps to help civilians, forming a group of more than 8,000 people to ask for information about locals being stranded or trapped. share a message.
Mr Lysichuk said the Russian military did not allow residents to leave, instead confiscating boats from residents and volunteers. Two volunteers confirmed this, telling the Associated Press that the Russian military had seized the boat they had brought. Volunteer Yaroslav Vasilyev said Russian forces seized three boats from volunteers on Wednesday.
Relatives of Oreshki residents said from afar that the Russian army was evacuating only Russian passport holders.
“My relatives told me today that Russian soldiers would come to my house by boat, but only those with Russian passports,” Viktoria Mironova Baka, 32, told The Associated Press by phone from Germany. I said I would go,” he said.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kislisya has called on Russia to allow access for the evacuation of humanitarian workers to the east bank of the river it occupies.
“Our own soldiers are also sitting in trees hoping to be evacuated, and we are not even looking after our own soldiers,” Mr Crislia said from the United Nations headquarters in New York.
In the city of Kherson, the worst-hit municipality, Russian artillery fire rang out not far from the square where ambulance crews and volunteers delivered relief supplies. Nine people were injured, including two paramedics, a police officer, a doctor and volunteers from Germany.
Rescue teams have halted efforts to contact stranded residents and pets in an area President Zelensky visited hours ago after shells landed in flood waters, officials told The Associated Press.
“The strike began during the evacuation of residents whose homes were flooded,” the interior ministry said. “Russia has left people behind in disasters in the occupied territories of the Kherson region. It continues to prevent Ukraine from saving the most precious human lives.”
Zelensky visited a relief distribution point and a medical facility in Kherson and asked authorities to provide an “unbiased assessment” of the damage to compensate residents, his office said in an update. said to have ordered
Russian President Vladimir Putin “has no plans at the moment” to visit the affected Moscow occupied territories, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Vladimir Sard, the regional governor appointed by Moscow to oversee the Russian-occupied territories, has accused Ukrainian troops of firing at an evacuation point in the Russian-occupied town of Khora Pristan. In a Telegram post, Sardo said two people were killed, including a pregnant 33-year-old woman, and two others were injured. It was not immediately possible to verify his account.
Fighting escalates along a front that stretches more than 1,000 kilometers from Kherson in the Black Sea to the Ukrainian-Russian border, but some experts and officials believe the long-anticipated Ukrainian counterattack is likely to continue. says it may be part of. Kiev said it would not announce the launch of such a campaign.
With the dam’s destruction, the United Nations and local officials said immediate concerns for the affected areas were access to fresh water and avoiding contact with floods contaminated with explosives and industrial chemicals.
More than 6,000 people have been evacuated on both sides of the river, officials said. However, the true scale of the disaster remained unknown for the affected areas.
Nearly 20 people were hospitalized, 4,280 people were evacuated and 14,000 buildings were flooded in areas controlled by Russia, authorities appointed by Russia said.
Russian officials say the dam’s destruction will eventually lead to fresh water in southern Ukraine and Russian-controlled Crimea, even though the peninsula currently has ample fresh water, with reservoirs 80 percent full. He said the supply would stop.
Ukrainian authorities cut off water supplies to Crimea after Moscow illegally annexed it in 2014, but Putin has cited the need to restore water supplies as a key reason for his decision to invade Ukraine.
Regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said about 600 square kilometers (231 square miles) of the area had been submerged, more than two-thirds of it on the eastern bank of the Dnieper, which is controlled by Russia.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a key ally of Putin, said Kiev blew up the dam to divert attention from a failed attempt to launch a counterattack.
Ukrainian officials have largely remained silent on recent battlefield developments amid mounting reports of escalating fighting that could add to the long-awaited counterattack.
Ukrainian forces appear to be launching offensive operations near the eastern town of Velika Novosirka and other points in the south, Michael Coffman of the Center for Naval Analysis, a U.S. research group, said in a podcast on Wednesday. We are seeing more qualitative changes,” he said. It is part of the Donetsk region and also on the border with the Zaporizhia region.
“I don’t think these attacks are the main offensive activity, but I think they are the beginning of the Ukrainian offensive,” he said.
Ukrainian military spokesman Valery Shashen confirmed “increased activity” in the Zaporizhia region, but added that “it cannot be said that it is serious.”
Kiten reported from Kiev. Ilya Novikov of Kiev, Joanna Kozlowska of London, Elise Morton of Thessaloniki, Greece, Julas Karmanau of Tallinn, Estonia, Hanna Ahirowa of Warsaw, Poland, and Edith M. Lederer of the United Nations contributed to this report. bottom.
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