Deaths confirmed after frontline dam rupture
At least five people were killed and 41 were injured in the wake of the breach of the Kakhovka dam, the mayor of the city hosting the damaged structure has said.
“Reports came today that out of the seven people, who were grazing cattle, five died. We are in the process of evacuating the other two,” Novaya Kakhovka Mayor Vladimir Leontyev reported during an interview on Thursday.
The mayor previously advised that seven people were missing in the wake of the frontline dam breach, which occurred early on Tuesday morning. Ukraine and Russia accused each other of destroying it and exposing thousands of people living downstream near the Dnieper River to flooding.
Novaya Kakhovka is located on the left shore of the river and is controlled by Russia, while Ukraine controls the opposite side of the Kherson region. Ukrainian officials said there were some fatalities after the flooding on the right shore as well.
Water levels in the city rose by 12 meters after the dam was breached, before starting to slowly recede by Tuesday evening. Russian authorities estimated that 14 settlements were in the impact area. In addition to the direct damage to buildings, infrastructure and fields, the incident caused the draining of a water reservoir, which was used to feed a canal transporting fresh water to Russia’s Crimea.
Kiev claimed that Russian troops blew up the dam to prevent a possible amphibious operation across the Dnieper in Kherson Region. Ukrainian officials say that charges were planted inside the dam, which the Russian Defense Ministry has denied.
Moscow in turn blamed the Ukrainians, citing their record of shelling the strategically important facility. A Ukrainian general last year confirmed to The Washington Post that Kiev’s forces used US-supplied rocket artillery to hit one of the dam’s floodgates as a dry run for future attacks, should the military deem it necessary to cause a flood.