- By James Waterhouse of Kherson and Thomas Mackintosh of London
- BBC news
The Red Cross warns that the collapse of a major dam in southern Ukraine will have a devastating impact on mine detection.
Thousands have already fled parts of the Kherson region as the Dnipro River, which separates territories controlled by Russia and Ukraine, continues to flood.
Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of sabotaging the Kakhovka Dam.
Three flood-related deaths have been reported in Russian-held Orezhky.
The town’s exiled Ukrainian mayor, Evgen Rishchuk, told public broadcaster Suspline he was confident there would be more casualties.
The BBC has been unable to verify the claims of Ukrainian and Russian officials.
Erik Treffsen, director of the Red Cross’s Arms Pollution Control Division, warned that the cleared mines have caused great concern not only to the residents of Kherson, but also to those who have come to their aid.
“We knew where the danger was,” he told AFP news agency. “I don’t know now.
“All we know is that they’re somewhere downstream.”
“Many anti-infantry mines,” Ukrainian Army Confederate Command spokeswoman Natalia Khmeniuk told Ukrainian television. [in Russian-seized areas] It was removed and became a floating mine.
“They pose a great danger,” she said, explaining that they are likely to explode if they collide or run into debris.
The Russian-controlled Nova Kakhovka dam burst early Tuesday morning, prompting mass evacuations as water levels downstream rose rapidly.
Officials said 30 towns and villages along the river were flooded, and nearly 2,000 houses were flooded in Kherson, the capital of the region controlled by Ukraine.
A woman who arrived in Kherson by rescue boat from the east side of the Russian-occupied river described how the situation deteriorated rapidly after hearing about the disaster early Tuesday morning.
“We managed to collect our luggage, but the water kept rising. At that moment, I was cooking buckwheat and my feet were already in the water. It started flooding,” Katerina Krupich, 40, told the BBC.
“I feel like I lived my whole life in just one day.”
Interior Minister Igor Klimenko said Ukrainians are developing plans to help people on both sides of the Dnipro.
“We are saving everyone on the right [Ukrainian-controlled] Establishing a bank and developing plans to help people in their lives. [Russian-held] left bank. “
He said that of the 30 flooded towns and villages, 20 were under Ukrainian control and 10 were temporarily occupied by Russia.
Mr Klimenko also accused the Russians of leaving “people who defend themselves”.
Rising water levels were expected to peak in Kherson late Wednesday, but officials fear devastating effects on agriculture as the vast Kakhovka reservoir upstream from the dam drains into the Black Sea.
Kherson region chief Oleksandr Prokudin said 1,700 people had been evacuated so far, while officials in the Kremlin across the river said 1,200 had been transported to safety.
Officials say more than 40,000 people (17,000 in Ukrainian-controlled areas west of the Dnipro and 25,000 in the Russian-occupied east) will need to leave.
UNICEF’s Damian Lance said the charity’s homes had been completely demolished amid lingering concerns about trapped residents.
“The water supply is clearly coming from reservoirs there, and the power supply has also been cut off, affecting safe water in many of these locations.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky said early Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of people across the Kherson region lack drinking water.
Both sides blame the other for the dam’s destruction.
Ukraine claims the river was mined by Russian forces and accuses Russia of doing little to help people in the flooded areas on the eastern bank of the river, which it occupies.
US Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who heads the Senate’s powerful Foreign Affairs Committee, told the BBC he was “still not convinced” Russia was responsible for the dam blowing.
“But Russia has again denied all actions they have taken against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, and those actions that we know were taken by Russia,” he added. .
Russia said the damage was caused by Ukrainian shelling, and President Vladimir Putin said in a phone call with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan that this was a “barbaric act”.
This is the latest difficulty to hit the city of Kherson. It was occupied by Russian forces shortly after the start of last year’s war, but was liberated by Ukraine in November. The city has been under shelling ever since.
Viktoria Yeremenko, 57, told the BBC her home had been destroyed in February and she moved into her son’s apartment, which is now flooded.
“We managed to escape,” she said. “I panicked and had to leave immediately to catch the dog. My brother is also half-paralyzed.”
In recent years, Kakhovkadam has become a symbol of influence between Kiev and Moscow.
After Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, Kiev closed a dam, cutting Ukraine’s southern peninsula from its main water supply.