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The collapse of the Kakhovka Dam floods the fighting areas between Russia and Ukraine


A torrent of water poured through a gap in a dam on the Dnipro River separating Russian and Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine on Tuesday, flooding large swathes of the combat zone and forcing villagers to flee.

Ukraine accuses Russia of blowing up the dam from the inside, a deliberate war crime. Officials appointed by Russia gave conflicting accounts of the event, some attributed the cause to the Ukrainian bombing, while others said that the dam collapsed on its own.

The Nova Kakhovka dam supplies water to the Crimean peninsula and the Zaporizhya nuclear power plant, both of which are under the control of Russia. The huge reservoir behind the dam is 240 km long and 23 km wide.

The destruction of the dam creates a new humanitarian crisis in the middle of the war zone and causes the battle fronts to shift as Ukraine prepares to launch a counter-offensive against Russian forces.

Russia has controlled the dam since the start of the war, although Ukrainian forces recaptured the northern side of the river last year. The two sides exchanged accusations of planning to destroy the dam.

A video clip showed the rising water level across the remaining parts of the dam, which is 3.2 km long and 30 meters high. The Russian Information Agency quoted the governor appointed by Russia in the region as saying that about 22,000 people living in 14 residential areas in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine are threatened by floods.

Crimean governor Sergei Aksionov said there was a danger of low water levels in the North Crimean Canal, which carries fresh water from the Dnipro River to Crimea.

A Russian-appointed official in the town of Nova Kakhovka said residents of about 300 homes had been evacuated, according to TASS news agency, and stated that it would most likely be impossible to repair the dam.