Ukraine has begun emergency evacuations of residents in parts of the southern Kherson region after claiming that a major dam, the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, had been “blown up” by Russian forces Tuesday.
The South command of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on its Facebook page that the facility had been “blown up” by Russian forces and that “the scale of the destruction, the speed and volume of water, and the probable areas of flooding are being clarified.”
CNBC and NBC News have not been able to independently verify Ukraine’s claims.
Ukrainian officials warned of potentially devastating flooding in the region and called on residents in 11 areas to leave immediately.
“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,” Ukraine’s interior ministry said.
Russia denied damaging the dam, saying instead that Ukraine had undermined the structure. Vladimir Leontiev, the Russian-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, the city where the dam is located, said “night attacks” on the facility had “led to the destruction of the valves” and that “water from the Kakhovka reservoir began to uncontrollably be discharged downstream,” according to Russian state news agency Tass.
Leontiev said there was still no need to evacuate the inhabitants of Nova Kakhovka, adding that “we are preparing for the worst consequences, but we hope that they will not happen.” He had initially denied there was damage to the dam.