EXCLUSIVE – ‘There’s nothing in their eyes. They’ve lost hope’: Rescuer reveals horrors of Kherson as dam disaster floodwaters force residents to dodge MINES floating through the streets after their homes were washed away
- Catastrophic floods have forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes
- Sergey Panashuchuk told of the scene’s horror, where locals forced to leave pets
- The rescuer claims civilians are under threat of dislodged Russian mines in water
A rescuer on the scene of devastating floods in southern Ukraine following explosions at a major dam and hydroelectric plant says civilians are under threat from dislodged Russian mines.
The catastrophic waters – which have forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes and submerged entire towns – were let loose after the Kakhovka dam over the Dneiper river was damaged by several explosions.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry this morning told ten villages on the river’s right bank, as well as parts of Kherson city downriver, to leave everything and flee their homes.
And Sergey Panashuchuk told of the scene’s horror, where locals have no electricity and were forced to leave their pets to drown.
Speaking to MailOnline, he said: ‘In Kherson, the city is now flooded and people have no electricity. Around 1,800 people have been evacuated from the Kherson region but of course the numbers are growing.
A local resident with a bike and a dog walks along the street past the buildings in Kherson
Sergey Panashuchuk told of the scene’s horror, where locals have no electricity and were forced to leave their pets to drown
Residents of the occupied Kherson region, Ukraine, are trying to rescue domestic pets and cattle from the flood
Rita, 38, together with her cat Kuzia, who was evacuated from flooded a village in Kherson
READ MORE: ‘Nothing will survive here’: Entire Ukrainian villages vanish underwater as Russia blows up Kakhovka dam ‘from the inside’ – forcing thousands to abandon their homes
A satellite image shows the Kakhovka dam in Kherson yesterday, before the attack
‘People are really concerned about the fate of their pets, like their cats and dogs, which they had to leave behind when they were rescued on boats by rescuers from the state.
‘You can see on social media so many people pleading for help for their pets to be saved. They are wanting to get motorboats to save their pets.
‘They are terrified. But with some you look into their eyes and there is nothing. They’ve given up hope.
‘They’ve been shelled every day and now their homes are underwater. And as we evacuated them, we could hear the Russian shelling on the other side of the river.
‘Russians were mining the area on the other side of the river to prevent a Ukranian counter-offensive and the floods but this flood made them move and now they are moving uncontrollably.
‘There is a real danger of them posing a threat to civilians. In Kherson it’s a real problem. They can damage homes, they can kill people.’
Kherson, which had a population of more than 280,000 before the war, was captured by Russia in March 2022, who went on to withdraw eight months later.
Ukrainian authorities have previously warned that the dam’s failure could unleash 18million cubic meters (4.8billion gallons) of water and flood Kherson and dozens of other towns and settlements, home to hundreds of thousands of people.
Rescue workers conduct an evacuation operation from the catastrophic floods
Water pictured flowing strongly through a breakthrough in the Kakhovka dam
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry this morning told ten villages on the river’s right bank, as well as parts of Kherson city downriver, to leave everything and flee their homes
A dog is carried to safety by a woman through flooded streets
The cause of the blasts is not yet clear, although Ukraine warned late last year that Russian forces had mined the dam as they retreated from Kherson and Ukraine’s state hydroelectric company said the Kakhova plant was destroyed by an explosion in the engine room – suggesting it was attacked from within rather than by external strikes.
READ MORE: What is the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine? Who destroyed it and why?
Mr Panashuchuk continued: ‘We don’t understand what will happen next. No one knows how the water will behave and the levels of destruction it will cause. I don’t know what the situation will be overnight with the water levels still rising.
‘What we saw was horrendous. Homes are underwater. The water came quickly and hundreds of residents were evacuated by boats.’
The rescuer immediately started calling other volunteers after hearing of the power plant being blown up.
He arrived with a team of rescuers – including Britons and Americans – who have been working tirelessly to evacuate civilians as the situation gets worse.
But in some villages residents have refused to leave their homes – which he parly blames on the government reassuring them the situation is under control.
Mr Panashuchuk added : ‘When we were trying to reach villages in the Kherson region this morning, the water was rising at a rapid rate. Within hours, they were underwater.
‘We don’t understand what will happen next. No one knows how the water will behave and the levels of destruction it will cause. I don’t know what the situation will be overnight with the water levels still rising.
A man sitting on a bench next to his dog, looks at flood water facing him in Kherson
A local resident makes her way through a flooded road
A boy carries his belongings in bags as he evacuates from his home
People help an elderly man to get in an inflatable boat as he tries to leave his city’s flooded streets
‘We don’t know what we will wake up to tomorrow but we are going to go back to Kherson tomorrow to try and help more people. We just don’t realise the possible scale of destruction yet.
‘People are angry at the Russians, they don’t know why they blew up the dam. There is no sense to it.’
READ MORE: OK, I’ve got work to do! BEAVER is spotted arriving in Kherson after Russia destroys Ukrainian dam
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday told a Vatican peace envoy that the destruction of the Kakhovka dam would have ‘dire consequences’ for people and nature.
‘This crime carries enormous threats and will have dire consequences for people’s lives and the environment,’ he told Italian cardinal Matteo Zuppi as the two met in Kyiv, according to a presidency statement.
Ukraine and Russia have previously accused each other of targeting the dam with attacks, and last October Zelensky predicted that Russia would destroy the dam in order to cause a flood.
The dam and the hydroelectric power station were captured by Putin’s forces as a priority at the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 last year. Russian officials claimed the dam was attacked by Ukrainian military strikes.
The World Data Centre for Geoinformatics and Sustainable Development – a Ukrainian non-governmental organisation – estimated that nearly 100 villages and towns would be flooded in total.
Red Cross volunteers drive a car on a flooded street in Kherson, as a resident watches on in rolled up trousers
The roof of a house is seen in the Dnipro river as flood waters course through southern Ukraine
Zelensky will now urgently convene his Security Council after the explosion at the dam which provides vital cooling at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The explosion at the dam has sparked concerns of a possible meltdown at the plant if the reactors cannot be cooled.
Zelensky said that Russian forces ‘must be expelled from every corner’ of his country in the wake of the supposed attack.
Kyiv officials alleged that Moscow destroyed the dam in order to slow down its long-awaited counter-offensive.
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