People of Ukraine trying to flee Kherson after the recent dam breach and flooding have to deal with shelling by Russia along the evacuation routes. Video footage shows Ukrainian evacuees trying to take shelter as a Russian missile comes thundering down the sky, leaving a trail of smoke.
The Soviet-era dam is in a Russia-controlled part of south Ukraine. The breach of the dam reservoir at the Kakhovka hydropower plant, which also supplies cooling water to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, was caused just a few days ago by bombing in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Both sides have blamed each other for the breach, which has flooded parts of the nearby city of Kherson and the surrounding areas, requiring widespread evacuation efforts.
Volunteers have been working round the clock to rescue hundreds of stranded people and animals, many of them trying to keep their head above floodwaters or sitting on rooftops. These evacuation efforts are laced with the fear of being bombed any moment. News agencies have reported, quoting local officials, that about 600 square kilometres of Kherson are under water.
It is not only bombs falling from the sky that people have to fear. The floodwaters are believed to have released land mines, which might be floating around and could explode. An on-the-scene report from The New York Times quoted Selena Kozakijevic, Ukraine area manager of the global aid agency CARE, as saying that the floods left people without shelter and sanitation, and put both the rescuers and evacuees at risk from floating land mines. “There is a high possibility of these unexploded ordnances floating around and landing in new unknown, unmapped areas,” she said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the flood-affected areas yesterday and thanked volunteers for their efforts. His country has termed the breach an act of “ecocide”, while the Russian side has dismissed the idea that it would bomb its own territory.
Meanwhile, reports suggest Ukrainian forces have stepped up their offensive actions in the south of the country, attacking a line of Russian forces near Zaporizhzhia. However, this is not the full-fledged Ukrainian counter-offensive against the Russian military. That has not been launched yet, though Ukrainian forces have seized territory near Bakhmut from Russian soldiers.