On Tuesday, Ukraine accused Russia of blowing up a major dam and hydroelectric power plant in Moscow-controlled Kherson in southern Ukraine.
Kyiv said the destruction could cause severe flooding that forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and ordered residents downriver to evacuate.
However, the Russian news agency TASS quoted an unnamed Russian government official as saying that the dam had “collapsed” due to damage.
Ukrainian authorities have previously warned that a dam failure could release 18 million cubic meters (4.8 billion gallons) of water and flood Kherson and dozens of other areas that are home to hundreds of thousands of people, and threaten to melt down a nearby Russian-occupied nuclear power plant. President Volodymyr Zelensky called an emergency meeting to resolve the crisis.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine wrote on Telegram about the exploded Kakhovka dam and called on residents of 10 villages on the right bank of the river and part of the city downstream of the city of Kherson to collect the necessary documents and pets, turn off the equipment and leave, warning against possible misinformation.
Footage from the dam’s security camera, which was circulated on social media, allegedly showed a flash, an explosion, and the destruction of the dam.
Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson regional military administration, said in a video posted on Telegram shortly before 7 a.m. that “the Russian army has committed another terrorist attack” and warned that the water would reach a “critical level” within five hours. .
Zelensky proposed convening an emergency meeting of the country’s Security and Defense Council after the explosion of the dam, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the council, tweeted.
Ukraine and Russia have previously accused each other of attacks on the dam, and last October Zelenskiy predicted that Russia would destroy the dam to cause flooding.
Authorities, experts and residents have been expressing concern for several months about the flow of water through and through the Kakhovka dam.
In February, water levels were so low that many feared an accident at the Russian-occupied Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, whose cooling systems are fed by water from a dam-held Kakhovka reservoir.
By mid-May, after torrential rains and snowmelt, water levels rose above normal, flooding nearby villages. Satellite images show water washing over damaged airlocks.
Ukraine controls five of the six dams on the Dnieper River, which flows from its northern border with Belarus to the Black Sea and is critical to supplying drinking water and electricity to the entire country. The Kakhovka dam, the furthest downstream in the Kherson region, is controlled by Russian troops.