Ukraine ‘loses’ exploding land mines as they float downstream after dam breach

Ukraine: Footage from the destruction at Kakhovka dam

Another potentially devastating consequence of the breaching of the Kakhovka dam has emerged as the Red Cross warned the flooding will make it even more difficult to locate landmines. Erik Tollefsen, head of the Red Cross’s weapon contamination unit, said prior to the destruction of the dam the organisation “knew where the hazards were”.

Speaking to AFP, he added: “Now we don’t know. All we know is that they are somewhere downstream.”

Similarly, Nataliya Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s military South Command, said many anti-infantry mines located in Russian-occupied areas “have been dislodged” and have become “floating mines”.

As such, they pose even more danger than before, as she explained they are now likely to explode if they collide or hit debris.

Two days after the world woke up to the environmental and humanitarian disaster, the governor of the Kherson region where the dam is located, Oleksandr Prokudin, said around 600 square kilometres of the province are now underwater.

Some 68 per cent of the flooding is located in the left bank of the Dnipro river, which has been under Russian occupation since the early stages of the war.

Mr Prokudin added in a statement shared on Telegram that the average water level as of Thursday morning was 5.61m.

On Thursday, Ukrainian media also reported the first three confirmed deaths following the flooding.

Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne said, citing the regional authority head of Kherson, as of Thursday morning “almost two thousand people have been evacuated from the flooded zone” in the Ukraine-controlled bank of the Dnipro river.

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was impossible to predict how many people would die particularly in the Russian-held areas of Kherson, and called for “large-scale efforts” to support the rescue operations already being carried out by Ukrainian troops and volunteers.

The Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported nearly 4,300 people were evacuated from the occupied Kherson region.

The media outlet claimed: “Over 14,000 houses were flooded after the breakthrough of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, and almost 4,300 people were evacuated, emergency services report.”

Alongside the devastating loss of livelihoods, property and life, the breached dam is also causing the displacement and death of animals.

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The loss of the reservoir could create the desertification of the area previously relying on it for watering crops and fields.

One major concern is also linked to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, as it needs a constant water supply for cooling the plant’s reactors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced that it will strengthen its presence at the plant.

Its director general Rafael Grossi said in an update on Wednesday: “The possible loss of the plant’s main source of cooling water further complicates an already extremely difficult and challenging nuclear safety and security situation.”

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