Russia has bombed residential buildings in Kherson as people were evacuating their flooded homes, with shelling leaving three injured and at least one person dead, according to Ukraine.
The cruel bombardment by Vladimir Putin’s forces comes as the region deals with massive flooding after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in Russian-held territory, which Kyiv labelled a ‘terrorist act’ by Moscow.
Evacuation points – including the one visited by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier in the day – were reportedly targeted by shelling, with civilians, journalists and rescuers taking shelter and operations being put on hold.
‘The shelling began precisely during the evacuation of citizens whose homes were flooded,’ Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.
It reiterated accusations that Russia has abandoned people in the territory it has occupied in the Kherson region, adding that it ‘continues to prevent Ukraine from saving the most valuable – human lives.’
Videos show terrified residents running for their lives as their homes, surrounded by floodwater, appear to come under attack. Further footage showed smoke rising from a water-logged town near what appears to be an evacuation boat.
Footage showed a column of water after bombing near what appears to be an evacuation boat in Kherson
The explosion of a Russian artillery shell near an amphibious ATV during flood evacuations
At least three people, a civilian woman, a policeman and a rescuer, were injured in the shelling of evacuation sites in Kherson
Evacuation points were reportedly targeted by shelling, with civilians, journalists and rescuers taking shelter and operations being put on hold
‘The shelling began precisely during the evacuation of citizens whose homes were flooded,’ Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said in a statement
Emergency workers lay down during a Russian military strike while they evacuate people
Rescuers were forced to seek shelter as artillery fire could be heard around the area of Kherson
Burning buildings were also filmed, with reports that fire and rescue crews were unable to reach bombed sites due to the high floodwaters.
Volunteers with boats have shared footage from inside the flooded city, showing residents looking out of their flooded homes as they await rescue.
One rescuer, Andry Boxer, posted videos on Instragram documenting rescues he carried out on a small motor boat.
Among those he helped to evacuate was an elderly man, who had suffered a severe injury and had blood streaming out of his head. The cause of his injury is unknown.
As artillery fire rang out over Kherson, rescue workers were seen taking shelter wherever they could.
In a video shared by Sky’s Alex Crawford, who is on the ground in the city, rescuers and civilians are seen running in panic as they could hear of shelling.
‘There are some civilians wounded and dead as a result of Russian shelling in the centre of Kherson, the number is being clarified,’ military spokesman Sergiy Sergeyev said earlier this afternoon. At least three people were wounded, police said.
Moscow has itself blasted Kyiv for what it said were attacks on rescue workers in Russian-held territory on the east bank of the Dnieper river.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: ‘The difficulty is that in a lot of places they [the rescuers] are forced to work in conditions of ongoing shelling from Ukraine, and this complicates their work.’
Kyiv also accused Moscow of hampering the evacuation effort with shelling yesterday.
A column of water from the explosion during a Russian military strike is seen during an evacuation local residents from a flooded area after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached
People at one evacuation point in Kherson were filmed running in panic as they could hear the sound of distant fire
Volunteers evacuate a dog from a flooded area after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached
Residents and rescue workers use boats to move through a flooded area in Kherson
‘Evacuation continues. Under fire!’ President Zelensky said. ‘Russian artillery continues to fire, no matter what. Savages.
‘Our military and special services are rescuing people as much as it is possible, despite the shelling.’
Routes out of the flooded city were bombed today shortly after Ukrainian President Zelensky was seen at an evacuation point in the city earlier today.
Residents of Kherson wait in line for drinking water being passed out by volunteers
Zelensky appeared to be holding back his emotion as he surveyed the flooded area. He was visiting a crossing point where people are being evacuated
Aerial photographs show houses submerged by the high water, with people’s homes, livelihoods, belongings and pets now abandoned
The devastation caused by the dam breach was reflected in the sombre expression of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky as he visited the region today, where thousands continue to flee their homes.
The battle-hardened leader appeared uncharacteristically emotional as he took in the scale of the flooding – described as Europe’s worst environmental disaster since Chernobyl.
Close to 20,000 people have been rescued from the resulting deluge, Kyiv confirmed last night. Another 40,000 face evacuation as streets across dozens of settlements have turned into rivers.
As Ukrainians continue to be evacuated from affected areas, the Russian-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka said on Russian state TV that five people have died.
Moscow-backed mayor Vladimir Leontyev said those who had died were among seven local residents declared missing following the dam collapse. The two others were found, he said, and efforts were being made to evacuate them.
Zelensky was flanked by army protection and and military leaders as he assessed the destruction
Chilling aerial photographs show houses submerged by the high water, with people’s homes, livelihoods, belongings and pets now abandoned.
Rescuers were using boats and amphibious vehicles to pluck people from flooded areas.
President Zelensky thanked the brave rescuers and volunteers and said ‘our task is to protect lives and help people as much as possible’.
One woman, Tetiana Omelchenko, 65, said she had waited two days for evacuation from her block of flats and had to climb through a broken window to reach a rescue boat.
‘In my building, the water has reached the third floor and there are still people in there,’ she said.
An employee at Kherson’s meteorological agency, Lora Musiyan, waded into the water to mark the current level: 5.33 metres above the norm.
‘That’s the height of two storeys – you can only survive this on a roof,’ she said.
The Russian state-owned news agency Tass, citing emergency services in the occupied region, said that up to 14,000 homes have been flooded and nearly 4,300 people evacuated.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (centre) speaks to Ihor Klymenko (centre right), head of the National police of Ukraine, during a visit to Kherson
Grain storage sits underwater after the collapsed of the Kakhovka Dam in the Kherson region
Twenty-three people were seen by doctors of which 21 were hospitalised, medical services reported.
President Zelensky also met with advisors to consider how to move forward following the widespread flooding.
He wrote on Telegram: ‘Many important issues were discussed. The operational situation in the region as a result of the disaster, evacuation of the population from potential flood zones, elimination of the emergency caused by the dam explosion, organization of life support for the flooded areas,’ he said on his Telegram channel.
‘Also, the prospects for restoring the region’s ecosystem and the operational military situation in the man-made disaster area.’
Rescuers ride an all-terrain vehicle during an evacuation from a flooded area in Kherson
The destruction of the dam on the Dnieper River, which separates Russian and Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine, is set to displace tens of thousands of people.
Writing on twitter, the deputy foreign minister Andrij Melnyk compared the flood to the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant that sent a radioactive cloud across Europe.
‘The worst environmental disaster in Europe since the Chernobyl disaster. Only this time Moscow deliberately used this weapon of mass destruction against the Ukrainians. Who else wants to negotiate with Putin?’ he wrote.
Homes and industrial buildings are barely visible over the expansive floodwaters in the region
The scale of the devastation caused by the explosion at the Kakhovka dam was laid bare yesterday. Close to 20,000 people had been rescued from the resulting deluge. Another 40,000 face evacuation. Pictured: Flooded streets in Kherson, Ukraine yesterday
A local resident sails on a sup board during an evacuation from a flooded area in Kherson
A local resident swims by a house in a flooded area in Kherson yesterday
A volunteer helps a cat trapped in a flooded home in Kherson, Ukraine yesterday
The cause of the blasts which destroyed the dam are not yet clear, however Ukraine warned late last year that Russian forces had mined the dam as they retreated from Kherson
Ukraine’s state hydroelectric company said the Kakhovka plant was destroyed by an explosion in the engine room – suggesting it was attacked from within rather than by external strikes.
Ukrainian authorities said 17,000 people were being evacuated and a total of 24 villages had been flooded.
‘Over 40,000 people are in danger of being flooded,’ Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said, adding that 25,000 more people needed to be evacuated on the Russian-occupied side of the Dnieper.
‘The evacuation will continue tomorrow and in the coming days – by bus and train,’ presidential adviser Oleksiy Kuleba said late on Tuesday.
Terrifying video shows houses being swept away and entire towns submerged by the deluge.
Village streets and fields near to the dam have been swamped by flooding as a Russia-installed local mayor warned that the water level would continue to rise for another 72 hours and claimed he expected 40ft high floods in some places.
Last October, Zelensky accused Russia of planting mines at the dam, warning that its destruction would spur a new wave of refugees into Europe.
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