At least seven people went missing in the Russian city of Novaya Kakhovka after a local hydroelectric dam was destroyed on Tuesday in what Moscow claims was a Ukrainian strike, local authorities said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, Vladimir Leontyev, the mayor of Novaya Kakhovka, noted, however, that preliminary information indicates that those people may have been rescued from the islands on the Dnieper River that went underwater.
- “We are talking about herdsmen there… There were seven people that we know about for sure”, he stated, adding that search and rescue efforts are still underway.
The mayor went on to say that the riverside settlement of Korsunka had gone completely underwater, while in the settlements of Dniepriany, Krynky, and Kazachiy Lageri the water had reached the buildings’ roofs.
- He also stated that on Tuesday the local authorities had managed to evacuate more than 900 people from the flooded areas, adding that this number includes 17 people who had been stranded on the roofs of buildings in an attempt to evade the gushing water.
Meanwhile, Leontyev noted that the water level in Novaya Kakhovka decreased by 35cm overnight. A day earlier, local emergency services said that the water in the area had risen by as much as 12 meters.
- The authorities in Russia’s Kherson Region, where the dam breach took place, declared a state of emergency across the entire territory. Vladimir Saldo, the local governor, said that in total between 22,000 and 40,000 people were located in the disaster area.
Moscow and Kiev traded accusations over who is to blame for the incident, which triggered mass evacuation efforts on both sides of the Dnieper River.
Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov accused Ukraine of “deliberate sabotage” in a bid to deprive Crimea of drinking water and deflect attention away from Kiev’s botched counteroffensive in Donbass.
However, Ukraine denied responsibility, with President Vladimir Zelensky claiming that the facility was damaged in a Russian “terrorist attack.”