Thousands of people are being evacuated downstream of a major dam which has been blown up in Russian-held Ukraine.
President Zelensky said 80 towns and villages were at risk of flooding after the destruction of the dam at Nova Kakhovka, which he blamed on Russia.
Water is surging down the Dnipro river and is said to pose a catastrophic flooding risk to the city of Kherson.
Russia has denied destroying the dam – which it controls – instead blaming Ukrainian shelling.
The Kakhovka dam is crucial in the region. It contains a reservoir, which provides water to farmers and residents, as well as to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It is also is a vital channel carrying water south to Russian-occupied Crimea.
Video footage shows a torrent of floodwater gushing through a breach in the dam. Several towns are already flooded, while people in areas further downstream were forced to flee by bus and train.
Around 40,000 people need to be evacuated, Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktoriya Lytvynova said on Ukrainian television – 17,000 people in Ukraine-controlled territory west of the Dnipro River and 25,000 on the Russian-controlled east.
Also speaking on Ukrainian television, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said about 1,000 people had been evacuated so far and “24 settlements” had been flooded.
He accused Russia of shelling the southern region of Kherson, where people were being evacuated from, and issued a warning about the dangers posed by mines being exposed by the rising water levels.
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Photo Credit: Getty