Ukraine war: Evacuation plea after major dam hit by strikes


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Ukrainian officials say as many as eight Russian missiles hit the dam on Wednesday

Residents in a southern Ukrainian city are being urged to evacuate because of a risk of flooding, after missiles hit a major reservoir dam.

As many as 22 streets in two districts of Kryvyi Rih are affected, city head Oleksandr Vilkul warned on Wednesday.

Officials said a water flow of 100 cubic metres per second was gushing from breaches, and water levels in the Inhulets river were rising dangerously.

Ukraine said the strike was revenge by Russia for its recent counter-attack.

President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russia as a “terrorist state”.

“You are weaklings who fight civilians,” Mr Zelensky, who was born in Kryvyi Rih, said in his late night address on Wednesday. “Scoundrels who, having escaped from the battlefield, are trying to do harm from somewhere far away,” he added.

This was an apparent reference to Ukraine’s recent military successes in a swift counter-offensive in the country’s north-eastern Kharkiv region. It has seen Ukraine’s army reclaim swathes of occupied territory, forcing Russian troops to retreat.

The precise scale of Ukraine’s gains has not been verified by the BBC.

Mr Zelensky said the reservoir had “no military value at all”.

Water supplies have been affected by the attack, officials say – and about 600,000 people are now at risk of flooding in the centre and another district of the city, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office.

Moscow has not publicly commented on Wednesday’s reported missile strikes.

Russia’s military had earlier admitted hitting energy-generating targets that caused widespread blackouts affecting millions of people in eastern Ukraine last weekend.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Zelensky visited the recently recaptured city of Izyum, a key logistics hub in the Kharkiv region.

He thanked troops who took part in the counter-offensive, and pledged that the Ukrainian flag would return to every city and village in the country.

As Kyiv’s forces move into previously occupied areas, allegations of Russian war crimes have started to emerge.

Locals in the town of Balakliya, also in the Kharkiv region, told the BBC that Russian troops had tortured civilians at the town’s police station during their occupation, while others recounted being electrocuted while in detention.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

While Russia still controls around a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, towns in the Donbas that fell early in the war are now the focus of Kyiv’s advancing forces.

After failing to capture cities across the country, including the capital, Kyiv, Russia is focusing on the Donbas – parts of which were already under the control of Russian-backed rebels before Russia launched its invasion this year.

On Monday, Moscow insisted that it would press on with its invasion “until all the goals that were originally set are achieved”.

But the pace of the Ukrainian advance appears to have taken Russian forces by surprise, with reports of some of Moscow’s forces abandoning their uniforms to blend in with civilians.

The Kremlin has admitted that its forces have left some eastern towns, but refused to call it a retreat, instead insisting that its forces were regrouping.

A separate Ukrainian counter-attack is continuing in the southern Kherson region, although troop advancements there have been slower.

Watch: The BBC’s Ros Atkins on… Ukraine’s fightback

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