As Ukraine accuses Russia of decimating a major dam in the Moscow-seized area of Kherson, the country’s national energy company has warned of the risk to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

A video shared by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky early on Tuesday morning appeared to depict water gushing through the remains of the Soviet-era dam, built in 1956 on the Dnipro river. This footage remains unverified.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company, expressed concern over the “threat” to the nearby Zaprozhizhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is dependent on water from the dam’s reservoir.

The dam is 150 kilometres away from the plant.

“As a result of the detonation, the water level in the Kakhova reservoir is rapidly decreasing, which is an additional threat to the temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP,” the company’s statement, shared to its official Telegram channel, read.

“Water from the Kakhova Reservoir is necessary for the station to receive power for turbine capacitors and safety systems."

“The station’s cooling pond is now full: as of 8:00 a.m., the water level is 16.6 meters, which is sufficient for the station’s needs.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has since confirmed that its experts are “closely monitoring the situation” at the scene, adding on Twitter that there is “no immediate nuclear safety risk” at the plant.

Mr Zelensky’s senior advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, has described the situation as a “global ecological disaster”, stating that “thousands of animals and ecosystems will be destroyed in the next few hours.”

Likewise, Andriy Yermak, head of Mr Zelensky’s office, described the destruction of the dam as “the largest man-made disaster in the world in recent decades”, expressing concern over the environmental impact.

At least 16,000 people are in the “critical zone” of the damaged dam. Evacuation trains are set to depart from the city later on Tuesday, Kherson governor Oleksandr Prokudin confirmed to local media.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

2023-06-06T09:22:46Z dg43tfdfdgfd