IP - About 42,000 people were at risk from flooding in Russian and Ukrainian-controlled areas along the Dnipro River after a dam collapsed, as the United Nations aid chief warned of "grave and far-reaching consequences."

Iran PressEurope: Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the collapse of the massive dam on Tuesday, which sent floodwaters across a swathe of the war zone and forced thousands to flee.

Ukraine said Russia committed a deliberate war crime in blowing up the Soviet-era Nova Kakhovka dam, which powered a hydroelectric station. The Kremlin blamed Ukraine, saying it was trying to distract from the launch of a major counteroffensive Moscow says is faltering.

U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that the dam breach "will have grave and far-reaching consequences for thousands of people in southern Ukraine on both sides of the front line through the loss of homes, food, safe water and livelihoods."

"The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe will only become fully realized in the coming days," he said.

Ukrainian officials estimated about 42,000 people were at risk from the flooding, which is expected to peak on Wednesday.

In Kherson city, about 60 km downstream from the dam, water levels rose by 3.5 meters on Tuesday, forcing residents to slog through water up to their knees to evacuate, carrying plastic bags full of possessions and small pets in carriers.

Buses, trains, and private vehicles were marshaled to carry people to safety in about 80 communities threatened by flooding.

In Kherson, cracks of incoming artillery sent people trying to flee running for cover on Tuesday. In the evening, Reuters reporters heard four incoming artillery blasts near a residential neighborhood where civilians were evacuating.

Residents in flooded Nova Kakhovka on the Russian-controlled bank of the Dnipro told Reuters that some had decided to stay despite being ordered out.

The Geneva Conventions ban targeting dams in war because of the danger to civilians.

The dam supplies water to a wide area of southern Ukrainian farmland, including the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, as well as cooling the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said Zaporizhzhia, upriver on the reservoir, should have enough water to cool its reactors for "some months" from a separate pond.

As Kyiv prepares for a long-awaited counteroffensive, some military analysts said the flooding could benefit Russia by slowing or limiting any potential Ukrainian advance along that part of the front line.


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