President Zelensky has visited flooded regions of Kherson, amid ongoing warnings of dangers posed by dislodged landmines in the region.
Writing on his official Telegram page, the Ukrainian President said officials had discussed the operational situation in the region as a result of the collapse of the Nova Khakovka dam on Tuesday, including the evacuation of the population from potential flood zones, and providing life support for flooded areas.”
In a video, he is shown visiting a crossing point in the city of Kherson, in Ukraine’s south, where people are being evacuated. He is seen shaking hands and discussing the rescue operation with emergency workers and military personnel.
Mr Zelensky added: “Our task is to protect lives and help people as much as possible. I thank the rescuers and volunteers! I thank everyone involved in this work!”
It comes amid warnings that landmines dislodged by the dam’s collapse pose a serious danger to not only Kherson residents but also rescuers.
Erik Tollefsen, head of the Red Cross’s weapon contamination unit, said: “We knew where the hazards were. Now we don’t know. All we know is that they are somewhere downstream.”
Nataliya Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s military South Command, told Ukrainian television: “Many anti-infantry mines [in Russian-seized areas] have been dislodged, becoming floating mines.
“They pose a great danger,” she added, being likely to explode if they collided or hit debris.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme, has called the destruction of the Kakhovka dam the “biggest humanitarian threat that we’ve faced in the last year” because it was so sudden and unexpected.
Matthew Hollingworth, the Ukraine country director for the World Food Programme, told the BBC there was a “public health crisis in the making” because of pollution including sewage, heavy oil and pesticides mixed into floodwater.