Devastation Caused By Floods After Dam Collapse Shows Satellite Pics

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The collapse of a dam on the Dnipro River, a major strategic waterway in Ukraine, is set to bring an environmental disaster for civilians in the region. The swollen waters threaten to destroy crops and force millions to evacuate. The breach of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine also raised tensions over the country’s 16-month war with Russia.

On Tuesday, the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine’s largely Russian-controlled Kherson region — which lies along the Dnipro River — suddenly collapsed. The structure was the critical element in a hydroelectric plant that provided electricity to a large area of the frontline, and it also served as a source of freshwater for nearby towns. Its destruction sent floods gushing toward surrounding towns and villages, including Nikopol on the Dnipro’s western bank. A zoo on the river’s Russian-controlled side was submerged entirely, with more than 300 animals believed to have died.

A satellite photo Tuesday morning by Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press showed more than 600 meters (over 1,900 feet) missing from the wall of the 1950s-era dam. It was not immediately clear whether Ukraine or Russia intentionally destroyed the dam, but its collapse added a dramatic new dimension to the conflict. Both sides feared the dam could eventually fail, and it’s possible the damage was due to gradual degradation.

Ukrainian officials told people in affected areas to flee as the water level grew. People packed what they could in military trucks or rafts and tried to make their way out of the danger zone, and they often encountered artillery fire.

Many of the people who fled were civilians, including children and elderly residents. But hundreds remained in inundated homes, some surrounded by water. Others stayed in the area to protect their livestock or businesses.

The flooding could have severe economic consequences for Ukraine, where agriculture is a vital industry. In the short term, it could hurt farmers by destroying grain fields and reducing output.
In the long run, it could deprive millions in the country’s south of access to clean drinking water and food. The disaster also comes at a difficult time, as Russia is poised to deploy its military reinforcements in the region.

As the crisis unfolded, Ukraine and Russia sent trains and buses to shuttle residents away from affected areas. Some 17,000 people have been evacuated from settlements in the path of rising waters. The flooding has also forced the evacuation of some Russian troops living near the conflict.

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