“People are dying, sitting on roofs with children and the elderly. Russians are not evacuating anyone, setting up roadblocks, and ruthlessly decimating the population. In the city center, which is somewhat elevated and drier, they have set up roadblocks and are not allowing anyone in. The neighboring villages are also not allowing people in. They are ruthlessly decimating the population. There are reports that people have drowned where rescues from rooftops were not possible.“ - Appeal from a resident of the city of Oleshki, Kherson region.
On the night of June 6, the Kakhovska Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) in Kherson region, Ukraine, was destroyed by a massive explosion carried out by russian forces. This disaster is considered the largest man-made catastrophe in Europe since the Chernobyl incident. The full extent of the damage is still uncertain and is likely to take years to assess.
Big water: Devastation and Consequences
The detonation of Kakhovska HPP led to an uncontrolled release of water from the Kakhovskaya reservoir, causing extensive flooding on both banks of the Dnipro River. The immediate aftermath saw inundated homes, drowned people and animals, and hundreds of square kilometers of land submerged. Additionally, there was widespread environmental damage including contamination of water bodies, destruction of ecosystems, and a significant portion of Ukrainian territory left without drinking water. The flooding also may lead to the pollution of the Black Sea and potentially the Mediterranean Sea, posing risks to both human and animal life.
Destruction of the Kakhovka Dam
As the situation develops, the water is gradually receding, and Kherson is now struggling to recover from the consequences of the Kakhovska dam explosion and the flooding of southern Ukraine. The human toll of this disaster is significant; someone lost their homes, and someone lost their relatives. Many people died, and many more went missing. The scale of the disaster will be assessed only after the end of all hostilities on Ukrainian lands since it is impossible to reach the occupied territories.
In the wake of the disaster, nearly 80 settlements in the Kherson region faced the risk of flooding. The destruction and flooding left over 16,000 residents in need of evacuation. Despite the challenges, volunteers have been working tirelessly to rescue and assist civilians, even in occupied territories.
Evacuation of people from flooded cities
The Bitmedia Fund Assists Volunteers
The non-governmental organization, "City of Power," from Kherson, has appealed to the Bitmedia Charity Fund with a request to help evacuate people and animals from the flooded areas in Ukraine. The priority needs include:
Equipped RIB boats;
Motors for RIB boats;
Overalls with waders;
Tall rubber boots.
The Fund made a prompt decision to allocate funds for the purchase of items needed by our dedicated volunteers.
We have already purchased and sent a portion of the aid to Kherson, which we were able to acquire swiftly. The remaining items, namely the boats and motors, will be sent soon.
Ecocide in action
The explosion has caused extensive damage to Ukraine’s water resources, estimated at 2 billion hryvnias. Over 300 species of animals and plants are threatened, with the possibility of a large number of fish, invertebrates, molluscs, and crustaceans perishing. Additionally, the flooding of landfills and the mass deaths of animals and fish could result in the spread of infectious diseases. The introduction of freshwater contaminated with pesticides and agrochemicals into the Black Sea poses a risk to fisheries in the region.
A local resident walks through flood watersin Kherson
Implications for Infrastructure and Water Supply
The Kakhovskaya HPP was vital in maintaining water levels in the reservoir and ensuring the supply of cooling water to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest. Although the situation at the power plant is currently under control, the reduction in water supply for cooling is a concern. The destruction of the hydroelectric power plant also affects the water supply to russian-occupied Crimea, as the North Crimean Canal that supplies water to the peninsula starts near Novaya Kakhovka.
The Kakhovskaya HPP detonation has resulted in widespread devastation, with far-reaching consequences for human life, the environment, and infrastructure. The relief efforts continue as authorities and volunteers work to mitigate the impacts of this disaster.