A part of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station in occupied Ukraine was destroyed following an explosion last night, causing flooding in the downsteam Kherson region.
While Russia said the destruction of the upper part of the Soviet-era dam was caused by Ukrainian shelling, Ukrainian media reported that Russian forces mined the dam to stop the Ukrainian army’s current counter-offensive.
The dam, is 30m tall and 3.2km long. It was built in 1956 on the Dnipro river as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. This dam supplies water to the Crimean peninsula and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which are both under Russian control. The NPP gets cooling water from the reservoir.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it is aware of reports of damage at Kakhovka dam. IAEA experts at the NPP are closely monitoring the situation. “There is no immediate nuclear safety risk at plant,” the IAEA said.
Officials in Kyiv accused of destroying the dam in “a panic” in order to slow down a Ukrainian counteroffensive, saying the consequences of Russia’s actions were “already catastrophic”.
“The terrorists’ goal is obvious – to create obstacles for the offensive actions of the armed forces,” Mykhaylo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, wrote in a tweet. “On a vast territory, all life will be destroyed; many settlements will be ruined; colossal damage will be done to the environment.”
Kherson administration warned on its official Telegram channel, “The water level is rising and everyone who is in the danger zone must: Turn off all electrical appliances; take documents and essentials; take care of loved ones and pets; follow the instructions of rescuers and policemen.”
Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson military administration, said on social media that about 16,000 people are in the critical zone on the right bank of the Kherson region. He said there was already flooding in eight areas along the Dnipro River.
Moscow-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, told Russian government-owned RIA Novosti that the dam had been hit by shelling which he blamed on Ukraine.
“There were several hits at two o'clock in the morning in the upper part of the hydroelectric power station, where the sandors are located, where the valves are directly located, and it was demolished. The dam has not been destroyed, and this is a great happiness,” Leontiev told the agency.
Leontiev added that downstream there is an increase in the water level by 2.5m. He said is no need to evacuate the population of Nova Kakhovka.