The collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine has caused a massive humanitarian and ecological crisis, affecting thousands of people and endangering the region’s water supply.
The dam, which was controlled by Russian forces since their invasion in 2022, was severely damaged by an explosion on June 5, 2023. The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of sabotaging the dam, while Russia has denied any involvement and blamed Ukrainian shelling.
The breach of the dam has unleashed a torrent of floodwater that has submerged dozens of towns and villages along the Dnipro river, forcing the evacuation of about 40,000 people.
The floodwater has also unearthed floating mines, exposed hazardous chemicals and contaminated drinking water with corpses and debris.
The situation poses a serious threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which relies on the reservoir water for cooling. The plant is said to be under control and there is no immediate nuclear safety risk, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
However, experts warn that a prolonged disruption of water supply could lead to a meltdown. The collapse of the dam has also cut off water to the Russian-occupied Crimea, which depends on the Dnipro river for irrigation and drinking water.
The Ukrainian authorities have declared a state of emergency and appealed for international assistance to cope with the disaster.