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Ukraine and Russia Blame One Another as Dam Breach Forces Mass Evacuations Along Dnipro River

HeadlineJun 06, 2023

Evacuation efforts are underway in southern Ukraine, where floodwaters are rising after a dam on the Dnipro River was breached overnight in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian town of Nova Kakhovka. The breach has created an additional humanitarian disaster in an area that’s seen heavy fighting since Russia’s invasion. Ukraine’s government says floodwaters are threatening 80 towns and villages, as well as the city of Kherson, home to 300,000 people. The breach could also limit drinking water supplies across Kherson and Crimea. Ukrainian officials accused Russia’s military of deliberately sabotaging the dam, calling it an act of “ecocide.” Russian officials blamed Ukrainian artillery fire for the breach. The disaster has raised fears of a nuclear accident at Europe’s largest nuclear power station, the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant, which is upstream of the dam breach. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said earlier today the plant relies on a reservoir formed by the dam for critical cooling systems. 

Rafael Grossi: “Absence of cooling water in the essential water systems for an extended period of time would cause fuel melt and inoperability of the emergency diesel generators. However, our current assessment is that there is no immediate risk to the safety of the plant. We are following this by the minute, as you can imagine.”

The dam breach came as Russia’s military said it had repelled a major offensive by Ukrainian forces in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region. It’s believed to be the start of a long-anticipated counteroffensive by Ukraine’s army. We’ll have more on the dam crisis in Ukraine later in the broadcast.

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