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The Kakhovka dam disaster unfolds Submerged minefields and hazardous pathogens are just some of the dangers posed by flooding in Ukraine’s Kherson region
Around 5,000 residential buildings in the Kherson region are standing in water, following the destruction of the Kakhovka hydropower dam. 1,852 houses and residential buildings are flooded on the western bank of Dnipro, where 1,457 residents had to evacuate, as reported by the regional governor, Oleksandr Prokudin. In the Russian-annexed part of the region, 2,700 residential buildings are flooded, and close to 1,300 people have already evacuated, as reported by TASS.
Seven people are reported missing in Nova Kakhovka, where the breached hydropower plant is located, but no one has been reported dead. A state of emergency has been declared in the Russian-annexed part of the Kherson region. The occupying authorities estimate that 22,000-40,000 people have been affected by flooding.
There are 15 towns and settlements in the flood zone. In Nova Kakhovka, Wednesday water levels came down by 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) compared to the observed maximum, but it will likely take at least a week before the water recedes to the old levels. The settlement of Dnipryany and Korsunka, located near Nova Kakhovka, are fully under water, as reported by the Kherson governor. Lower down along the Dnipro River, the villages of Krynky and Kozachi Laheri are flooded up to the rooftops, according to the Russian occupying authorities there.
The Russian-controlled city of Hola Prystan is 80 percent flooded, up to the rooftops in some areas. Partly submerged are Pishchane, Stara Zburivka, Kardashynka, and Oleshki. In Kherson, there’s flooding in the streets, and close to 1,300 people have been evacuated from one of its residential districts. During the early hours of June 7, water began to flood the Bilozerska community just outside of Kherson.
The collapse of the Kakhovka dam may force the Ukrainian army to revise its counteroffensive plans. According to the Russian-appointed head of the Kherson occupation government, Vladimir Saldo, the tactical situation arising from the breach favors the invading Russian military. Saldo did not clarify the reasons for his opinion. He points out, however, that the mine fields set up by the Russian troops in the region have gone underwater. “The servicemen know where they are,” Saldo said on Solovyov Live propaganda TV show, adding that “they’re taking care of this.”
Ukraine’s Healthcare Ministry warns that flooding may lead to drinking water contamination with hazardous chemicals and pathogenic bacteria from cemeteries, the sewer system, and landfills.
Experts from both Russia and Ukraine expect flooding to resolve within 10 days from the dam collapse. Ihor Syrota, CEO of Ukrhydroenergo, Ukraine’s largest hydropower company, said, when interviewed by the Russian-language local news outlet Donbas.Realii, that water levels could stabilize even as early as June 7. According to Syrota, by day 10, “all of the water will have flown into the Black Sea,” while the Kakhovka Reservoir will remain completely drained.
Kherson Governor Oleksandr Prokudin observes that, while the flooding has slowed down, water is still rising, and will likely go up by another meter (or three feet) by the end of June 7. The Russian emergency service in the annexed part of Kherson predicts that water will continue to rise for 3–5 days in some areas.
The Ukrainian authorities insist that the Kakhovka dam was blown up by the Russian army’s 205th Cossack Motor Rifle Brigade. Moscow, however, refuses to take responsibility for the disaster, calling it a “deliberate act of sabotage by the Ukrainian side.”
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