Efforts to evacuate residents from some 300 riverside buildings are underway, Vladimir Leontyev has said
The water level in the Dnieper river has soared by more than 10 meters in the area of Novaya Kakhovka in Russia's Kherson Region after a Ukrainian strike seriously damaged the local major hydroelectric dam, local authorities said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Vladimir Leontyev, the head of the local administration, said the attack on Kakhovskaya hydroelectric dam could result in the water level rising by as much as 12 meters, but that it is projected to return to normal within three days. "However, we have to survive these 72 hours," he said.
He also said that local authorities have started to evacuate residents from riverside settlements, including the towns of Korsunska and Dniepriany as well as adjacent territories, with some 300 buildings being vacated.
Andrey Alekseenko, the chair of Kherson Region's administration, said that in total 14 settlements with a combined population of 22,000 people could be flooded.
According to local officials, the key infrastructure was "destroyed as a result of a strike" by Ukrainian forces, which was described by Leontyev as a major "terrorist act." Local emergency services said that 14 out of 28 of the dam's spans had already collapsed, with more expected to follow suit.
However, Ukrainian officials denied responsibility, with Mikhail Podoliak, a top adviser to President Vladimir Zelensky, placing the blame on Moscow and accusing it of creating "the biggest environmental disaster in Europe in decades."