Floods sweep region after huge dam destroyed

Thousands of people are being evacuated down­stream of a major dam which has been blown up in Russian-held Ukraine.

President Zelensky said 80 towns and villages were at risk of flooding after the destruction of the dam at Nova Kakhovka, which he blamed on Russia.

Water is surging down the Dnipro river and is said to pose a catastrophic flooding risk to the city of Kherson.

Russia has denied destroying the dam – which it controls – instead blaming Ukrainian shelling. Nei­ther Ukraine nor Russia’s claim has been verified by the BBC.

The Kakhovka dam is crucial in the region. It contains a reservoir, which provides water to farmers and residents, as well as to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It is also is a vital channel carrying water south to Russian-occupied Crimea.

Video footage shows a torrent of floodwater gushing through a breach in the dam. Several towns are already flooded, while people in areas further downstream were forced to flee by bus and train.

Around 40,000 people need to be evacuated, Deputy Prosecu­tor-General, Viktoriya Lytvynova, said on Ukrainian television – 17,000 people in Ukraine-con­trolled territory west of the Dnipro River and 25,000 on the Russian-controlled east.

Also speaking on Ukrainian television, Interior Minister, Ihor Klymenko, said about 1,000 people had been evacuated so far and “24 settlements” had been flooded.

He accused Russia of shelling the southern region of Kherson, where people were being evacuated from, and issued a warning about the dangers posed by mines being exposed by the rising water levels.

One local resident, Andrei, who lives close to the dam – which has been under Russian control throughout the invasion – said he believed Russia wanted to “drown” his city.

In Kherson, a woman called Lyudmyla – who was loading her belongings, including a washing machine onto a trailer that was attached to an old car – said: “We’re afraid of flooding. We’re taking our things a little higher up.”

She called for Russian forces to be “kicked out of here… they’re shooting at us. They’re flooding us or doing something else”. —BBC

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