Emergency evacuations are underway in parts of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson as a major incident unfolds following damage to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam.
Images and videos posted on social media by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials show a massive surge of water heading through the damaged structure, putting thousands of residents downstream at risk.
Ukraine said the dam had been “blown up” by Russian forces Tuesday, with the South command of Ukraine’s Armed Forces saying that “the scale of the destruction, the speed and volume of water, and the probable areas of flooding are being clarified.”
Ukrainian officials warned of potentially devastating flooding in the Kherson region and said around 1,300 people have been evacuated so far.
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.
CNBC and NBC News have not been able to independently verify Ukraine’s or Russia’s claims about how the dam was initially damaged.