The area of southern Ukraine which is under Russian control has witnessed the destruction of a massive dam, causing a sudden release of water.

The military of Ukraine and Nato have both accused Russia of causing an explosion at the dam. However, Russia has placed the blame on Ukraine.

Numerous individuals have been asked to leave their homes in nearby towns due to the devastating floods that have affected the regions adjacent to the Dnipro river, where low-lying areas have been submerged.

The UN humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths is cautioning that there will be serious and extensive consequences for thousands of people in the Kherson region due to the anticipated peak of flood waters in the next few hours.

This is the current information that we have.

Can you tell me the location of the dam? The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant can be found in Nova Kakhovka, which is situated in the Kherson region. Unfortunately, the city is presently being occupied by Russian forces.

During the Soviet era, a dam was constructed along the Dnipro river, which runs from the north of the country to the south where it meets the sea. The dam is one of six that can be found along the river. The Kherson region is where the river is divided between Russia and Ukraine. Russia occupies the southern bank, while Ukraine controls the northern bank.

According to Reuters, there is a dam that contains a reservoir that is as big as the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The locals refer to it as the Kakhovka Sea because it is so vast that in some areas, you cannot see the other bank.

What occurred?

Images captured from both photographs and video footage indicated that there was a significant rupture in the dam, causing water to gush through it and inundate the area downstream towards Kherson.

The exact time when the dam suffered damage is not known, but images taken from satellites indicate that its state worsened gradually over several days.

From June 2nd, there appeared to be damage on the road that crosses the dam. However, there was no visible impact on the water flow until June 6th when the wall broke and nearby buildings collapsed. It is not confirmed yet whether the road damage is related to the breach that occurred on June 6th.

The use of satellite imagery has revealed significant flooding in the regions adjacent to the Dnipro river, particularly in areas with low elevation.

On Tuesday, photographs captured in Nova Kakhovka depicted structures encompassed by surging waters caused by flooding. The images also displayed swans swimming near a nearby administrative building.

The water levels in Nova Kakhovka seem to be decreasing at the moment, but in the city of Kherson downstream, they have not reached their highest point yet.

According to the locals of Oleshky, some houses in the town are so close to being submerged in water that elderly individuals are stranded on their rooftops, hoping to be rescued.

According to the mayor appointed by Russia in Nova Kakhovka, the village of Korsunka has been entirely flooded. Meanwhile, three other nearby villages – Kozachi Laheri, Krynky, and Dnipryany – have been submerged up to their roofs.

The video is not playable.

To watch this video, it’s necessary to activate JavaScript on your browser. The video showcases the sight of swans swimming around Nova Kakhovka.

According to Oleksandr Prokudin, the governor of the region, many individuals residing in the areas of Kherson, which are situated at a lower elevation than Nova Kakhovka and are located less than 50 miles downstream from it, have been relocated to safer locations.

According to him, around 2,000 residences located on the side of the river that is controlled by Ukraine have been completely flooded.

The company in charge of operating hydroelectric power dams in Ukraine, UkrHydroEnerho, has stated that the Nova Kakhovka station has been completely destroyed and is beyond repair.

According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, 150 tonnes of industrial lubricant has polluted the river and an additional 300 tonnes of the substance might leak, putting the river at risk of further contamination.

The process of desertification, whereby land becomes barren and dry, is a growing concern as floods are causing damage to agricultural areas. The aftermath of the flooding is expected to have long-lasting negative effects.

The agriculture ministry of Ukraine reported that a large area of agricultural land on the side of the Dnipro River controlled by Ukraine had been affected by flooding, covering an area of 10,000 hectares. The area of land affected by flooding on the side occupied by Russia was many times larger

The ministry reported that a vast majority of irrigation systems used for agriculture in the Kherson region, up to 94%, were currently lacking a water source.

There is uncertainty surrounding the cause of the damage to the dam. However, the military in Ukraine suspects that Russia intentionally caused the breach. This could be a valid assumption, as it’s possible that Russia was concerned about Ukrainian troops crossing over into their territory via the road on the dam, as part of a counter-attack.

The spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, denied any involvement by Russia in the recent incident and instead accused Ukraine of committing an act of "sabotage". He claimed that this action would cause a water shortage in the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The BBC has not confirmed the assertions made by either Ukraine or Russia.

The dam held significant value and fulfilled various functions.

The reservoir was responsible for storing a large amount of water that was used by many communities located further upstream. It was also used as a source of cooling water for the nuclear power station situated at Zaporizhzhia, which was under the control of Russia and heavily depended on the reservoir.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there is no immediate danger to nuclear safety, but they are keeping a close eye on the situation.

The statement mentioned that in case the dam’s water level drops below 12.7m, which is the minimum level required for pumping water upstream to Zaporizhzhia, there are other sources of water available to keep the nuclear plant cool. One such source is a large cooling pond located close to the site.

In addition to its other functions, the dam also served as an important conduit for transporting water from the Dnipro River to Crimea, which is currently under Russian occupation. As a result, there is a high possibility that the water supply in Crimea will be impacted.

In 2014, when Russia took over Crimea, Ukraine stopped the flow of water from Nova Kakhovka, which led to a severe shortage of water on the peninsula.

After the complete invasion that occurred last year, the Russian forces have reestablished the channel. However, there is a possibility that the water flow along the channel may be affected due to the absence of the dam, as the water levels could decrease once again.

Since the invasion, Russia has conducted multiple assaults on dams in Ukraine, resulting in extensive flooding and interference with the electricity supply.

Subjects of Interest

Further information on this story

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