Zelensky Visits Flooded Kherson Region Following Deadly Dam Destruction

June 8, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the flood-ravaged Kherson region on Thursday following this week’s deadly destruction of the Kakhovka Dam.

“Kherson region. From the Government and the State Emergency Service to the regional authorities and local communities, everyone is involved to the maximum extent possible to save and protect as many people as possible. And I thank everyone who saves and helps! Let’s take care of each other and Ukraine!” Zelensky tweeted along with several photos and video of the flooding as well as his visit with patients and medical staff in Kherson.

Thousands have been forced to evacuate the floodwaters in what United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called a “monumental humanitarian, economic and ecological catastrophe.”

At least five residents of Kherson have died following the massive flooding that was triggered by the dam’s destruction, according to the city of Nova Kakhovka’s Russian appointed mayor, Vladimir Leontyev, who added that two more people have gone missing. Russian-appointed authorities have further said that at least two dozen people have been hospitalized in areas under their control.

Additionally, some 14,000 buildings have been flooded, according to Russian officials. 

Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of blowing up the dam, which is in an area currently under Russian military control and separates Russian and Ukrainian forces in the war zone. Zelensky has referred to the destruction as an act of “Russian terrorists.”

Russian officials, however, accused Kyiv of striking the dam with missiles to distract attention from what they said were failures in its recently-launched counteroffensive to take back Ukrainian territory from Russian control. 

While the exact cause behind the dam’s destruction has not been immediately clear, engineering and munitions experts have told the New York Times that a deliberate explosion from inside the dam had most likely caused its collapse. The experts conceded that structural failure or an attack from outside the structure was possible though less plausible.

Amid his visit to the Kherson region, Zelensky ordered Ukrainian officials to provide a “fair valuation” of flood damages and develop a scheme to compensate residents whose property was damaged or whose businesses had to relocate.

PHOTO: @ZelenskyyUa

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