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Dam destroyed in Ukraine: thousands evacuated, an ecological disaster feared

2023-06-07T15:44:05.990Z

Highlights: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal says Russia caused "one of the worst environmental disasters in decades" More than 150 tons of motor oil have been spilled into the river and thousands of hectares of arable land will be flooded, according to Kiev. The destruction of the dam built in the 1950s has also raised new concerns for the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. There is "no immediate nuclear danger", however, reassured the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)


Destruction of ecosystems, floods, pollution, energy threats: the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine,


After the shock, the state of affairs and the worry about the consequences. Ukraine and Russian occupation forces on Wednesday continued to evacuate civilians from flooded areas after the destruction the previous day in a Russian-controlled area of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine, raising fears of a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe.

In Kherson, a city recaptured by the Ukrainians last November located 70 km downstream from the Kakhovka dam, evacuations were still underway Wednesday under the pressure of water from the nearby river. One resident, Natalia Korj, 68, said she had to swim to leave her home.

"All my rooms are underwater. My fridge floats, the freezer, everything. We are used to (artillery) fire, but a natural disaster is a real nightmare, "she laments, barefoot and hands slumped with cold after being rescued by local services. She was only able to take a few belongings and medicine with her, abandoning her two dogs and cat. "I don't know what happened to them," she laments.

One of the worst environmental disasters in decades

In the streets of the center, the water reaches the waist. Below on the banks of the Dnieper, the river rose five meters. According to Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the military administration of the Kherson region, "1,700 people have been evacuated" from the flooded areas under Ukrainian control.

VIDEO. In Ukraine, concern prevails after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam

The Ukrainian authorities will have to evacuate "more than 17,000" civilians, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said Tuesday. On the Russian side, authorities evacuated 1,274 people and a state of emergency was declared in the part of the Kherson region controlled by Moscow. An unknown number of civilians also left the flooded areas on both sides on their own.

The day before, Ukraine accused Moscow of "blowing up" the dam, a strategy it said aims to "curb" its troops in the run-up to a vast counter-offensive. Moscow, on the other hand, accuses Kiev of "deliberate sabotage" for military purposes. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said Wednesday in an online speech at an OECD event that Russia had caused "one of the worst environmental disasters in decades."

A disaster for fauna and flora

According to Volodymyr Zelensky, who fears "massive environmental damage", "thousands and thousands of animals are trapped in the floods". More than 150 tons of motor oil have been spilled into the river and thousands of hectares of arable land will be flooded, according to Kiev.

The agriculture ministry said it had already recorded fish deaths in the area, also predicting water shortages for crop irrigation as the Kakhovka reservoir emptied. Vegetation upstream of the dam "will die due to drainage, while areas downstream will be flooded, including steppe and forest complexes," warned the Ukrainian NGO Ecoaction.

See alsoDams broken: previous murderers, including in France

The destruction of the dam built in the 1950s has also raised new concerns for the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, located 150 km upstream and cooled by water from the dam. There is "no immediate nuclear danger", however, reassured the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

As for the explosion that Moscow said destroyed the ammonia pipeline Monday night near Massyutovka, a small village controlled by Russian forces in the Kharkiv region (northeastern Ukraine), it hit equipment "crucial to ensure food security in the world," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

The pipeline, which connects the Russian city of Togliatti on the banks of the Volga River with Odessa, Ukraine's most important port on the Black Sea, allowed Russia to export more than 2.5 million tonnes of ammonia - a key component of mineral fertilisers - annually to the European Union.

Source: leparis

All news articles on 2023-06-07

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