On Tuesday morning, a major dam in Kherson, southern Ukraine, suffered severe damage, putting approximately 42,000 people at risk of flooding.
Due to the rising floodwaters, some individuals in affected areas were left with no choice but to spend the night on their rooftops or seek refuge in trees.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has issued a warning, stating that hundreds of thousands of people are now without access to clean water. The flood levels in certain affected regions are expected to reach their highest point later today.
According to reports from Russia’s state media, at least seven individuals are currently missing, and a state of emergency has been declared in the annexed part of Ukraine’s Kherson region.
Both Ukraine and Russia have engaged in a blame game regarding the dam collapse. President Zelensky has accused Russia of deliberately triggering an “environmental bomb of mass destruction.”
Conversely, Russia claims that Ukraine orchestrated the attack on the dam to divert attention from what Moscow perceives as Kyiv’s failures in its counter-offensive.
The remaining structure of the Kakhovka dam is likely to deteriorate further over the next few days, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said.
In an intelligence update posted on Twitter, the MoD says the dam partially failed shortly before 03:00 local time on Tuesday and the entire eastern portion of the structure was swept away by midday.
It also says the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir was at a record high shortly before the breach, which led to a “particularly high volume of water inundating the area downstream”.
But the MoD also says the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is “highly unlikely” to face immediate safety issues over the dropping water levels in the reservoir.