Ten dead and 20 injured so far in the disaster at the hydroelectric dam in Nova Kakhovka that resulted in widespread flooding. At the same time, 35 people are missing, including 7 children and 5 military personnel.
The mass displacement of the affected people continues unabated. 51 buses have been mobilised for the evacuation of civilians, while trains from Kherson to Kiev and from Kherson to Lviv are running on odd days. At the same time, 14 evacuation centres have been set up (13 in the town of Cherson and 1 in the village of Vysokoe, Beryslav district).
A total of 2,782 people have been evacuated, including 309 children and 78 people with 80% of people, in fear of looting, remain close to their homes and refuse to evacuate outside Nova Kahofka, strongly wishing to return to them once the water level recedes, which is expected to reach critical levels. Currently, there are 423 people in temporary evacuation centres, including 70 people with limited mobility and 7 children. So far, psychological assistance has been provided to 398 people. Since the start of operations, the rescue services have received 1,536 calls from citizens.
Widespread flooding has destroyed 3,801 houses, at least 80 settlements have been affected, while 28 large industrial facilities on the banks of the Dnieper River have been flooded. The Kherson Clinical Hospital has been flooded and the modular container in Blahativka has been destroyed. There is a serious risk of flooding for 35 healthcare facilities and 6 evacuation centres have already started operating. Twenty-two brigades from the Emergency Management Centre and 6 crews from the Red Cross are on evacuation standby.
Rescuers are working feverishly to pump out the water. As of 15 June, 22,000 tonnes of water had been pumped out of 88 houses and basements (since the beginning of the work, more than 59,000 tonnes of water have been pumped out of 245 houses and basements), with the participation of 69 motorised pumps. For the time being, the water level near the bridges is not rising and is gradually decreasing. However, as a result of the rising water level in the Dnieper River, there is a serious problem in the sewage drainage systems of 170,000 inhabitants.
The population of 36 settlements in the regions of Dariyivska, Bilozerka, Tiahynska, Novokakhovska, Chornobaivska, Kalynivska, and Chersonas have been fully supplied with food. During the day of 15 June, emergency services workers delivered 49 tonnes of water (of which 36 tonnes were potable) and 4,495 kg of food and essentials for citizens. There is a significant demand for alternative cooking appliances (stoves, gas burners); several districts face problems with electricity and gas supply.
Water contamination 28 thousand times above normal
The biggest challenge for the affected people is drinking water. The water level of the Kakhovka Reservoir – the source of drinking water for around 700,000 people in southern Ukraine – has reportedly dropped by 70%, causing severe water shortages in several areas. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs delivered a humanitarian aid package to the Bilozerka community, including drinking water, packaged food, materials for home repairs and medicines. In addition, drinking water in tankers and about 1,000 rations of dry food were delivered to the village of Sadove and Dnipropetrovsk region.
“The consequences of the Kakhovskaya dam disaster cannot be fully assessed at the moment, but they will be enormous both for the environment and for people’s health,” said Viktor Lyashko, Ukraine’s Minister of Health.
“There was an exceedance of 28,000 times according to some indicators [in the Dnieper River]. Therefore, swimming, fishing, drinking this water and feeding cattle are prohibited. When a person swims in such water, he or she can potentially develop a disease.The treatment plants switched to emergency disinfection situations. Monitoring of water quality in the water supply network has been stepped up so as not to miss an outbreak,” Lyashko stressed.
The Minister of Health also noted that everything possible is being done at the moment to provide drinking water to citizens. The government allocated one and a half billion grivnas for the affected regions; Mykolaiv, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk. These regions will live with groundwater for at least three months.
At the same time, it is not known with certainty whether the Black Sea coast will be suitable for beach holidays this year, because the waters have only just begun to recede from residential areas. And how quickly the sea will clear depends on the degree of damage to the dam, on how the water will leave the estuary.
In the meantime, there is a risk of flooding of two burial sites containing animal carcasses, which could lead to complications in the epidemiological and epizootic situation. Sufficient quantities of vaccines are already available for this purpose. However, the Minister of Health of Ukraine notes that there is not a single case of cholera among the people. Monitoring of the reservoirs is being carried out and cholera viruses, both flood-related and non-flood-related, are detected from time to time.
At the same time, initial satellite imagery suggests that several thousand hectares of agricultural land on both sides of the Dnieper River have been affected-it is estimated that around 20% of the Kherson is flooded. If the flooding continues, it could lead to crop losses without sufficient time for replanting during this period.
Total destruction of Kakhovka’s hydroelectric power station
According to ‘Ukrhydroenergo’, the state operator of Ukraine’s hydroelectric power plants, the Kakhovka hydropower plant (KHPP) has been completely destroyed. The peak of the water discharge from the reservoir of the Kakhovka hydropower plant occurred on the morning of 7 June. The Kakhovka reservoir, formed by the Kakhovka dam, extends over 240 km in the regions of Zaporizhzhya, Dniepropetrovsk and Kherson. It is estimated that 600 km2 of the Kherson district is currently under water.
The Government of Ukraine has called on international organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN, to assist those affected on the Russian-controlled left bank. The failure and subsequent collapse of the hydroelectric power plant released between 150 and 450 tonnes of engine oil from the plant’s turbines into the Dnieper River. The scale of the immediate and long-term environmental damage caused by the oil spill has not yet been accurately assessed.
The destruction of the dam, beyond these immediate humanitarian needs, will have a significant long-term impact on a much larger geographical area and population. It will have serious, long-term impacts on Ukraine’s environment, economy and society, including the potential displacement and migration of the population, and is likely to cast a dark shadow over the country for decades to come.
In all affected areas, humanitarian organisations are continuing their efforts to scale up humanitarian assistance, providing over 30,000 people with assistance, in particular food and water. Numbers are expected to increase further as the removal of people and animals continues.
Médecins du Monde stands by the Ukrainian people as the need for immediate shelter, psychosocial support and health care in flood-affected communities is urgent, and there is an immediate need for support for clean water in health facilities. MdM is in close contact with the authorities, having some emergency stocks (medicines, medical supplies and kits) ready