Ukraine dam collapse: rescue work suspended in Kherson amid shelling attacks after evacuees arrive

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Rescue work was paused after Kherson city was shelled following the arrival of evacuees who had fled their home after the collapse of the Kakhovka dam

The city of Kherson in southern Ukraine has been shelled shortly after thousands of flood victims arrived in the city. 

Rescue work in the city was paused as it came under fire from shelling attacks, with some evacuation points targeted, according to the Ukrainian authorities. Thousands of people in close vicinity to the Dnipro River were forced to leave their homes after the Kakhovka dam collapsed on Tuesday 6 June

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Ukraine has blamed Russia for the attacks, while Moscow has pointed towards Zelensky’s troops for carrying out the shelling attacks during rescue operations. The shelling has taken place as Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Moscow’s troops repelled an attempted offensive by Ukraine overnight in the Zaporizhzhia region. 

At least five people are known to have died following the dam collapse, with tens of thousands of people without drinking water. Ukrainian authorities have attempted to fly in drinking water supplies to the region. 

However, as now-homeless residents from villages surrounding the Dnipro River arrived in Kherson city, shells landed in floodwaters. The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said: “The strikes began during evacuation of the residents, whose houses were flooded.

“Russia has abandoned people in calamity in the occupied part of the Kherson region. It continues to prevent Ukraine from saving the most valuable — human lives.”

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The shelling also took place hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky left the area, after assessing the city for damage from the floodwater. The Ukrainian leader visited an aid centre in Kherson, while also ordering officials to make a “fair valuation” of the damage caused in order to compensate those affected.

Rescue workers have been attempting to have those affected by flooding caused by the collapse of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine. (Credit: Getty Images)Rescue workers have been attempting to have those affected by flooding caused by the collapse of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine. (Credit: Getty Images)
Rescue workers have been attempting to have those affected by flooding caused by the collapse of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine. (Credit: Getty Images) | Getty Images

According to the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin “has no plans at the current moment” to visit the Kherson region.

While drinking water and medical aid distribution has become a headache for officials in the region, there have also been warnings over the safety of evacuees amid fears that landmines could be washed away. The Red Cross warned that where the charity was once aware of the locations of landmines, the flooding through various towns and villages has muddied this data. 

Erik Tollefsen, head of the charity’s weapons contamination unit, said: "We knew where the hazards were. Now we don't know. All we know is that they are somewhere downstream."

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His fears were echoed by Ukraine's military South Command. Nataliya Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for the group, told local media: "Many anti-infantry mines have been dislodged, becoming floating mines. They pose a great danger."

Both Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the damage to the hydroelectric dam, which is located in a Russian-controlled southern region of Ukraine. More than 6,000 people are reported to have been evacuated but the true scale of the devastation is thought to be under-reported with the immediate population surrounding the dam and river topping more than 60,000. 

While experts have claimed that Russia could have carried out the attack in an effort to delayed the highly-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive and direct attention away from this, the Kremlin has accused Ukraine of hitting the dam - which is on the frontline between the two nations - in a botched beginning to the counter-offensive. However, it has also been noted that the Kakhovka dam was in a state of disrepair prior to the collapse.

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