Fri | Sep 22, 2023

Ukrainians make desperate escape from floods after dam collapse as shelling echoes overhead

Published:Tuesday | June 6, 2023 | 10:05 PM
Local residents carry their belongings as they evacuated from a flooded neighborhood in Kherson, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. The wall of a major dam in a part of southern Ukraine has collapsed, triggering floods, endangering Europe's largest nuclear power plant, and threatening drinking water supplies. (AP Photo/Libkos)

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — As shelling from Russia's war on Ukraine echoed overhead, dozens of evacuees on an island in the Dnieper River scurried onto the tops of military trucks or into rafts to flee rising floodwaters caused by a dam breach upstream.

The unnerving bark of dogs left behind further soured the mood of those ferried to safety.

A woman in one raft clutched the head of her despondent daughter.

A stalled military truck stuck in swelling waters raised the panic level as Red Cross teams tried to manage an orderly evacuation.

Nobody knew just how high the waters rushing through a gaping hole in the Kakhovka dam would rise, or whether people or pets would escape alive.

The scrambled evacuation by boat and military truck from an island neighbourhood off the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson downstream on Tuesday testified to the latest human chaos caused by Russia's war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities accused Russian forces of purposely destroying the dam. Russian authorities blamed recent Ukrainian military strikes.

“The Russians have hit the dam, and didn't think of consequences,” said Oleksandr Sokeryn, who fled his house with his family after it was completely flooded.

“They should not be forgiven.”

Officials on both sides said the massive dam breach had caused no civilian casualties; the hurried escape aimed to keep it that way.

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