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Explosion at Nova Kakhovka dam threatens Ukraine’s Kherson region with devastating floodwaters — Meduza

Sep 26, 2023

Ukraine's Operational Command South has confirmed that an explosion on Tuesday morning destroyed the Nova Kakhovka dam, which guards the Kherson region's coastal cities against a reservoir with water levels currently at a 30-year high. In a statement on Facebook, the Ukrainian military accused Russian occupation forces of blowing up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. The loss of the dam is expected to unleash flood waters downstream and exacerbate Ukraine's energy shortages after months of Russian missile strikes targeting power generation and grid facilities across the country.

Officials in the Operational Command South say they are now assessing the scale of destruction, the speed and volume of released water, and the areas most likely to be flooded.

Russian bloggers, meanwhile, say it was Ukrainian forces who bombed the dam, and the Russia-appointed mayor of occupied Nova Kakhovka denies that the dam was breached at all, though videos circulating on social media show a structure in ruins with the waters of the Dnipro River overwhelming the wreckage. In comments to the state news agency RIA Novosti, Mayor Vladimir Leontiev said an artillery attack destroyed only the upper part of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, while the dam itself remains intact. He also reported that the water level downstream subsequently rose 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).

In a video statement shared with state television, Leontiev later claimed that "numerous strikes" against the power plant damaged the facility's "gate valve," causing an "uncontrolled release" of the reservoir's waters. Leontiev also cautioned that an evacuation of the city might be necessary if flooding becomes severe.