Ukrainian and Russian occupation authorities on Thursday accused each other of deadly strikes in southern Ukraine, targeting civilians, including evacuees from areas flooded by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Kherson region, where more than 600 km2 were flooded according to Kyiv, to provide support to affected civilians. At this point, the Ukrainian and Russian occupation authorities count six deaths in the floods.
But despite the evacuation of civilians in distress, the shelling continued.
Russian occupation authorities in Ukraine accused Kyiv of killing two people, including a 33-year-old pregnant woman, when they bombed an evacuation point in Golan Pristan on Thursday, where Moscow-installed relief supplies are helping civilians leave the flooded areas.
A Ukrainian army official for his part reported Russian artillery bombardments on the center of the city of Kherson, hit by major floods, which left several dead and injured.
The shelling comes as Mr. Zelensky was in Kherson on Thursday to talk to officials and civilians at an evacuation point.
“You are going through a difficult ordeal. We will help you and rebuild everything that needs to be […] I would like to thank all the medical staff for their work, even under fire. You are heroic,” he said in a social media post.
The president said he held a “coordination meeting” on “the operational situation in the region” and “the evacuation of the population from potentially flood-prone areas”.
He promised “compensation” for “residents affected by the disaster” and “a program to compensate for losses or relocate businesses to the region”.
20,000 people without electricity
Moscow and kyiv reject responsibility for the destruction on Tuesday of the Kakhovka dam located on the Dnieper River, which raises fears of a humanitarian and ecological disaster.
According to Governor Oleksandr Prokudin, “six hundred square kilometers are flooded in the Kherson region. 32% are on the right bank” of the river controlled by the Ukrainians, and “68% on the left bank”, occupied by the Russians.
According to the administration of the region, 2198 people were evacuated. Many other people fled on their own.
The emergency services explained that, on the Ukrainian side of the river, “20 localities and 2629 houses” had been flooded.
A 53-year-old man from the village of Vasylivka, who refused to be evacuated on Wednesday, died, according to Sergey Chaikhet, police chief of the Mykolaiv region.
On the Russian side, 4,500 people “have already been evacuated”, according to the occupation authorities, and “five people […] drowned,” according to Vladimir Leontiev, the mayor of the city of Nova Kakhovka, installed by Russia.
More than 20,000 consumers are still without power, according to Ukraine’s Energy Ministry.
The government has launched an appeal for donations for rescuers, in particular for the purchase of boats or motor pumps.
In Kherson, Tetiana Omeltchenko, 65, told AFP that she waited for rescuers for two days, finally crawling out of her apartment through a window to reach the local services inflatable boat.
“In my building, the water has reached the third floor and there are still people there,” she said.
According to an employee of the local meteorological agency, Laura Moussiïane, the water level is 5.33 meters above normal. But he “started to go down a bit. If this trend continues, it will be good news for the inhabitants,” she told AFP.
The day before, Volodymyr Zelensky had deplored the lack of international humanitarian aid: “The UN, the United Nations and the representatives of the Red Cross are not there”, he denounced, saying he was “shocked”. , in an interview with German media Welt TV and Picture.
“In response to these accusations”, the Red Cross assured to participate in the evacuation operations in Ukrainian territory, with about fifty volunteers.
During a meeting between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and the UN coordinator in Ukraine, Denise Brown, “it was agreed that the United Nations would immediately increase the volume of aid and send additional forces to Kherson and in other affected regions,” the ministry said.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced to him on Wednesday evening the sending of “aid to meet immediate needs”.
Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday accused Russia of mining the dam and blowing it up.
His Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for his part said on Wednesday that it was “a barbaric act” committed by the Ukrainians. On Thursday, Russia accused Ukraine before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of attacking the dam with “massive” artillery strikes.
Volodymyr Zelensky also said he feared “massive environmental damage”.
“We risk losing many species of plants and animals on the red list” of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said Andriï Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration.
A four-year-old boy, his father and grandfather were also killed in a Russian strike in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian police announced on Telegram, which also reported five others injured, including four children.
The Kremlin warned on Thursday that Monday’s explosion of an ammonia pipeline in Ukraine, essential for exporting fertilizers, could have a “negative impact” on the future of the crucial grain deal for the EU. global food supply.
See the damage from the attack on the Ukrainian dam