Drinking Water Rushed to Ukraine Flood Victims After Dam Rupture
The Kakhovka dam broke on Tuesday, leaving thousands of people stuck or trying to leave the area. On Wednesday, Ukrainian officials sent drinking water to the southern part of the country to help those people.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that hundreds of thousands of people were “without normal access to drinking water.”
He said on Twitter that the damage of the dam at the defunct hydroelectric power station was “absolutely deliberate,” and he blamed Russian forces. He also said that Moscow wasn’t doing anything to help people in areas under Russian control who are now dealing with flooding.
More than 17,000 people are being moved out of places along the Dnipro River, where the Ukrainian government says about 40 towns and villages have been flooded. More than 900 people were moved out of places that Russia had taken over.
But it wasn’t clear yet how bad the disaster was for a 60,000-person town.
In its daily report, Britain’s defense ministry said on Wednesday, “The dam’s structure is likely to get worse over the next few days, which will cause more flooding.”
Both Ukraine and Russia blamed the other for the destruction of the dam, which was about 70 kilometers east of Kherson in a part of Ukraine that Russia has held for more than a year.
Ukraine controls the west side of the Dnipro River, while Russia controls the lower and more likely to flood east side. As the flood waters kept rising in places that were controlled by Russia, some people waited for help on their roofs.
The water in the dam is important for farming in the area and for keeping the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally took over in 2014, supplied with fresh water.
It wasn’t clear how the floods would affect the war, but the Ukraine was getting ready for a big counterattack to take back land that Russia had taken in the first few weeks of the conflict.
The Institute for the Study of War, a study group in Washington, said that Russia has “a greater and clearer interest” in flooding the lower Dnieper, even though it will hurt their own defensive positions that they have prepared. The Dnipro River is called Dnieper in Russian.
Experts said that the dam, which was built in the 1950s, was in bad shape and likely to fall because the water was already overflowing when the wall gave way. Officials say that it hadn’t been making electricity since November.
The British Ministry of Defense said that the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir was “record high” before the leak. Even though the dam wasn’t completely destroyed, the ministry said that it “is likely to get worse over the next few days.”
The White House in Washington said Tuesday that it couldn’t say for sure what happened to the big dam, but that it was looking into reports that Russia was to blame.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the United Nations that strikes on civilians and infrastructure used by civilians must stop.
He said, “This tragedy is just one more example of how terrible war is for people.” Since more than a year ago, the rivers of pain have been spilling over. “Stop doing that!”
Both Ukraine and Russia asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to talk about the situation.
Martin Griffiths, the head of humanitarian affairs for the United Nations, told the meeting that the full extent of the disaster wouldn’t be known until the next few days, but that it would have “grave and far-reaching consequences” for the thousands of people on both sides of the front lines in southern Ukraine who have lost their homes, jobs, and clean water.
Griffiths told the council members, “The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam may be the most important damage to civilian infrastructure since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.”
He said again that international humanitarian law protects things like dams because destroying them can cause a lot of damage to civilians.
Griffiths was also worried that the floods could move landmines or spread contamination from explosive weapons, putting more people in danger.
The dam gave water to a large part of southern Ukraine’s farmland and to the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula. It also helped cool the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, or ZNPP, which was under Russian control.
The dam makes the Kakhovka basin, which holds water that is used to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools at ZNPP.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said on Tuesday that the water level in the pool had been going down all day, but the site had backup plans and there was no immediate risk to the safety of the nuclear power plant.
Grossi, who will go to Ukraine next week, said that a cooling pond next to the site could provide enough water “for some months” and asked everyone in Ukraine to make sure that it “remains intact.”
Russia took control of the ZNPP early on in its full-scale attack of Ukraine, and Grossi has said many times that if the area isn’t kept safe, there could be a nuclear disaster.