A man in the flooded Kherson region in southern Ukraine tries to rescue a cow, June 7, 2023 (Global Images Ukraine/Getty)
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1703 GMT:
Fighting has escalated in the Zaporizhzhia region, near the strategic town of Tokmak.
Satellite images and Russian military observers indicate that Ukrainian forces carried out heavy shelling followed by an attempt to break through Russian defensive lines.
Tokmak, south of Zaporizhzhia city, is a major railway junction and logistical hub. Its liberation would open the way to Melitopol, and break Russian communications between Mariupol and the port city of Berdyansk.
Russian layers of defenses including zigzag trenches, “dragon’s teeth”, and minefield.
Russian milbloggers described a “hard night” on Wednesday for Russian forces around nearby Orihiv: “Enemy artillery and tanks are still intensively working on our positions.”
UPDATE 1141 GMT:
The Ukraine Agriculture Ministry has warned that several million tons of crops could be lost because of the flooding after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam.
“Without a source of water supply, it is impossible to grow vegetables,” the Ministry explained. “Grain and oilseeds will be grown using an extensive model with low yields.”
The officials said on Wednesday that at least 500,000 hectares of Ukrainian land could become “deserts” without irrigation.
UPDATE 0855 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited the Kherson region amid the flooding following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam.
Zelenskiy posted on Telegram:
A coordination meeting on the liquidation of consequences of the Kakhovka HPP [Hydroelectric Power Plant] dam explosion.
Many important issues were discussed. The operational situation in the region as a result of the disaster, evacuation of the population from potential flood zones, elimination of the emergency caused by the dam explosion, organization of life support for the flooded areas. Also, the prospects for restoring the region’s ecosystem and the operational military situation in the man-made disaster area.
It is important to calculate the damage and allocate funds to compensate residents affected by the disaster and develop a programme to compensate for losses or relocate businesses within the Kherson region.
Разом з Президентом @ZelenskyyUa та командою перебуваємо на Херсонщині.
Проведена координаційна нарада щодо ліквідації наслідків підриву греблі Каховської ГЕС. pic.twitter.com/XruHPMHnli
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) June 8, 2023
UPDATE 0847 GMT:
On Russian State TV, commentators argue about responsibility for the demolition of the Nova Kakhovka Dam, with some defying the Kremlin’s line that the damage was from “Ukrainian shelling”.
With the official narrative collapsing and the discussion embroiled in argument, the host cuts off the segment, “This is nuts.”
UPDATE 0843 GMT:
Five people have died in flooding in the Russian-occupied area of the Kherson region, says the Russian proxy mayor of Nova Kakhovka.
UPDATE 0648 GMT:
At least 600 square km (232 square miles) of the Kherson region have been flooded by the demolition of the Nova Kakhovka Dam, says Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the Ukrainian regional military administration.
Of the flooded area, 68% is on the Russian-occupied east (left) bank of the Dnipro River and 32% on the Ukrainian-held west bank. The average level of flooding on Thursday morning is 5.61 meters (18.41 ft).
Prokudin said almost 2,000 people have now been evacuated from the danger zone to temporary aid shelters.
Despite the extreme danger and constant Russian shelling, evacuations from the flooded area continue.
The situation on the eastern bank is extremely difficult. People are suffering not only from the high water, but also from Russian terror and the occupiers’ unwillingness to help people.
Flooded Korsunka village downstream from Nova Kakhovka, Kherson Oblast
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) June 8, 2023
UPDATE 0622 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Russian forces are shooting at Ukrainian rescuers trying to reach residents trapped in floods in the occupied areas of the Kherson region.
“As soon as our helpers try to rescue them, they are shot at,” Zelenskiy said.
Residents said on Tuesday that Russian authorities have set up checkpoints and are refusing entry to volunteers who want to help with evacuation.
Aid organization Helping to Leave confirmed the “chaotic” scene: “They are not allowing volunteers on boats to enter. Some evacuation is being carried out by [Russian] emergency services but it’s very selective and it is not enough.”
People, animals have died. From the roofs of the flooded houses, people see drowned people floating by. You can see that on the other side.
It’s very hard to get people out of the occupied part of Kherson region. When our forces try to get them out, they are shot at by occupiers from a distance.
Russian proxy officials claim almost 4,300 people have been evacuated, with more than 14,000 homes flooded.
UPDATE 0533 GMT:
The head of Ukraine’s hydroenergy agency Ukrhydroenergo says the submerged Kakhovskaya Hydroelectric Power Plant cannot be saved.
Igor Sirota said construction of a new plant will take at least five years.
UPDATE 0523 GMT:
The International Atomic Energy Agency is hoping to send more personnel to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the wake of the demolition of the Nova Kakhovka Dam in the neighboring Kherson region.
The cooling pond of the plant, the largest in Europe, is fed by water from the threatened Nova Kakhovka reservoir.
The Agency announced on Wednesday that Director General Rafael Grossi will “strengthen the IAEA’s presence at the site, replacing the current team with a larger group travelling with him across the frontline”.
The IAEA said the reservoir’s water levels had fallen by 2.8 meters since Tuesday, but the hourly rate has slowed to between 5 and 7 centimeters from a peak of 11 meters.
It cautioned, “If the level falls below 12.7 metres, the ZNPP will no longer be able to pump water from the reservoir to the site” — a scenario that could happen within two days.
The plant is replenishing water reserves while it is still possible to use the reservoir, the Agency said.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed for international help with rescues, following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam and flooding of the Kherson region in the south of the country.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said:
Our military and special services are rescuing people as much as it is possible, despite the shelling. But large-scale efforts are needed.
We need international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, to immediately join the rescue operation and help people in the occupied part of Kherson region.
If an international organization is not present in the disaster zone, it means it does not exist at all or is incapable.
He told international media that, more than 24 hours after the dam’s demolition, the aid groups “aren’t here”: “We have had no response. I am shocked.”
The UN’s humanitarian affairs office said a team was in Kherson to coordinate relief efforts. With access to drinking water threatened to hundreds of thousands of people, it said about 12,000 bottles of water and 10,000 purification tablets had been distributed so far.
Ukraine Interior Minister Oleg Klymenko said on Wednesday that 1,894 civilians had been evacuated by rescuers, police, and volunteers from 20 settlements under Ukrainian control.
However, concern is growing over the fate of stranded residents in the 10 settlements occupied by the Russians on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River.
The Russian proxy governor in Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, proclaimed, “So far, more than 4,000 people have been evacuated.”
However, Saldo’s credibility had already been damaged by his assertion from the flooded town of Nova Kakhovka — as residents were filmed on rooftops of submerged houses, desperately calling for help — “People are calmly walking around the streets. I’ve just driven around the streets, people are working, the gas stations are open, some stores are open.”
Local people spoke of Russian soldiers abandoning frontline positions and wading through water to higher ground. A resident of Nova Kakhovka said no rescuers had arrived: only Russian infantry soldiers were visible, and “they don’t know what to do”. Another explained, “Everyone is left to fend for themselves, there is no organised evacuation.”
Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal called out to international humanitarian organizations to aid in the Russian-occupied as well as Ukrainian-controlled areas.
We appeal to you to take charge of evacuating people from the territory of Kherson oblast occupied by Russia. We must save the lives of people whom the occupiers have condemned to death.
The Russian proxy mayor of Oleshky, Yevhen Ryshchuk, said three people had drowned. Much of the town, across the Dnipro River from Ukrainian-held Kherson city, is under water.
In his call for a “clear and rapid reaction from the world”, Zelenskiy said it was impossible to predict how many people will die in Russian-occupied territory.