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Around 600 sq km in Ukraine's Kherson region submerged by floodwater from destroyed dam: Governor

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A view shows a flooded area after the Nova Kakhovka dam destroyed in Ukraine's Kherson region, June 7, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Around 600 square kilometers of Kherson region in Ukraine has been submerged by floodwater caused as a result of the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, the regional governor says.

The Nova Kakhovka dam was destroyed early on Tuesday, with satellite images and videos on social media showing a series of intense explosions around the dam as flood water was unleashed across the war zone.

Both Russia and Ukraine have traded blame over the alleged explosion that destroyed the key dam and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

The dam was the largest reservoir in Ukraine in terms of volume and used to hold an estimated 18 cubic kilometers of water. It supplied water for much of southeastern Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, and the Crimean peninsula that joined the Russian Federation in 2014.

Sixty-eight percent of the flooded territory was on the Russian-controlled left bank of the Dnipro River, said Governor Oleksandr Prokudin, adding that the "average level of flooding" in Kherson region on Thursday morning was 5.61 meters (18.41 ft).

"We're already working. We will help everyone that has ended up in trouble," the governor further said in a video statement, noting, "Despite the immense danger and constant Russian shelling, evacuation from zones of flooding is continuing."

According to Prokudin, around 2,000 people have already left flooded territory as of Thursday morning.

In his first reaction to the incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denounced the attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam as a ''barbaric act that led to a large-scale environmental and humanitarian catastrophe."

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that the explosion was the result of "Russian act of terrorism."

He further claimed that Russia-backed forces were failing in their dam evacuation efforts, saying the provision of drinking water and resettlement should be prioritized.

Separately on Thursday, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov slammed what he called a targeted campaign by US media regarding the destruction of the massive dam to purportedly shift the Ukrainian responsibility on Russia and to "whitewash" the government in Kiev.

"There is a targeted disinformation campaign going on in the US media around the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. There are many insinuations about the fact that Russia allegedly has blown up the most important infrastructure facility," he said, stressing, "Administration officials have framed their rhetoric as if the Russian Federation were in any case responsible for all incidents that occur during the Ukrainian conflict."

Antonov also noted that the destruction of the dam was the result of "a terrorist attack" by Kiev that violated "international humanitarian law."

"Washington patrons never criticize Kiev. All actions of the regime are approved of, while any strikes, that Russians suffer from, are encouraged," the ambassador further said.

Throughout the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, both Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of plotting to blow up the Nova Kakhovka dam several times.

Currently, nearly 42,000 people are reportedly at risk of being affected by the flooding in Russian and Ukrainian-controlled areas along the Dnipro River after the dam collapsed.

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