42,000 at risk from flooding, several make desperate escape; UN warns of ‘grave consequences’

By India Today World Desk: Hours after a major dam and hydroelectric power plant in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine suffered a collapse early Tuesday, a mass evacuation process began for around 42,000 people who were at risk from flooding.

As Ukraine accused Moscow’s forces of committing an act of “ecocide”, the United Nations aid chief warned of “grave and far-reaching consequences.”

As Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the collapse of the massive dam on Tuesday, floodwaters gushed through a swathe of the war zone and forced thousands to flee.

House completelycollapses in Kherson due to flooding from destroyed dam#ukraine #UkraineDam #breaking #news #breakingnewspic.twitter.com/bJWw7erjNa
— Crime With Bobby (@crimewithbobby) June 6, 2023

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Ukraine said Russia committed a deliberate war crime in blowing up the Soviet-era Nova Kakhovka dam, which powered a hydroelectric station. The Kremlin blamed Ukraine, saying it was trying to distract from the launch of a major counteroffensive Moscow says is faltering, news agency Reuters reported.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that the dam breach “will have grave and far-reaching consequences for thousands of people in southern Ukraine on both sides of the front line through the loss of homes, food, safe water and livelihoods.”

A local resident stands next to a public transport stop on a flooded street after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached, in Kherson, Ukraine, June 6, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

ALSO READ | Ukraine war zone villagers flee floods after massive dam destroyed

“The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe will only become fully realized in the coming days,” the UN aid chief said.

No deaths were initially reported, but US spokesman, John Kirby, said the flooding had probably caused “many deaths”.

Ukrainian officials estimated about 42,000 people were at risk from the flooding, which was expected to peak on Wednesday.

In Kherson city, about 60 kms (37 miles) downstream from the dam, water levels rose by 3.5 meters (11-1/2 feet) on Tuesday, forcing residents to slog through water up to their knees to evacuate, carrying plastic bags full of possessions and small pets in carriers.

ALSO READ | Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine is blown, unleashing flood of water

One of the residents residing near the dam said, “Everything is submerged in water, all the furniture, the fridge, food, all flowers, everything is floating. I do not know what to do.”

Buses, trains and private vehicles were marshalled to carry people to safety in about 80 communities threatened by flooding.

“More and more water is coming every hour. It’s very dirty,” Yevheniya, a woman in Nova Kakhovka, said by telephone.

Washington said it was uncertain who was responsible, but Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told reporters it would not make sense for Ukraine to destroy the dam and harm its own people.

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