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Russia Damages a Dam in Ukraine, Raises Flood Fears

KRYVYI RIH, Ukraine – At first, she heard terrible explosions. Then the tap water coming out of her faucet became filthy. And when Inna Tsvitkova, a non-working businessman, left her apartment in Kryvyi Rih on Wednesday night, she watched the swift river just outside her door pick up branches and rubble.

Russian forces fired a cruise missile into a large dam in her city, sending millions of gallons of water spewing downstream.

“It was horrifying,” she said late Wednesday night. “I think in the morning I’m going to step outside and fall into the water.”

By Thursday morning, the water had begun to recede, bringing relief to a city of more than half a million people. Officials said disaster was narrowly avoided. The cruise missile damaged the dam but did not leave a large hole. Officials say flooding has slowed. Many people who have left their homes are coming back.

However, the bigger worry remains. When the Ukrainian military pressed the offensive to push the Russians out of its territory, the Russians responded with devastating attacks on critical infrastructure.

This week, the Russians blew up a power plant in Kharkiv, blacking out a large area of ​​Ukraine’s second largest city. And overnight, Ukrainian authorities reported more attacks on infrastructure in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro regions.

President Volodymyr Zelensky could not contain his anger. “History is written by man, never by barbarism,” he said in a speech Thursday morning.

The dam at Kryvyi Rih “has no military value at all,” he said, calling the Russians “scoundrels” and “weak people.”

The attack on the strategic Inhulets river dam could be catastrophic for civilians in the city, but it also has the potential to serve a military purpose, Ukrainian officials said.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the President of Ukraine, said: “The missile attack on the Kryvyi Rih dam was an attempt to prevent the Ukrainian attack on Kherson by flooding the Inhulets River and destroying Ukrainian pontoon bridges. “.

The Ukrainian military rushed to build lightweight pontoon bridges to cross the Inhulets River. Some military strategists and Ukrainian officials believe the Russians targeted the dam to cause flooding and wash away Ukraine’s bridges.

The ongoing offensive in the south of Ukraine is centered on Russian-controlled enclave west of the Dnipro River, dividing Ukraine from north to south. Unlike last week’s surprise attack in the northeast, Ukraine announced weeks in advance of its southern offensive by attacking Russian supply lines and key river routes in an attempt to trap Russian soldiers on the west bank of the river.

Officials at Kryvyi Rih were still assessing the full extent of the dam’s damage as of Thursday. The 200-meter-long structure holds nearly 300 million tons of water in a yawning reservoir. It was created during Soviet times to supply the mining and metallurgical businesses of this heavily industrialized area.

On Thursday morning, three soldiers stood watching the gushing water in silence. Small groups of people walked along both sides of the river, taking pictures of the river with their phones.

Marc Santora contribution report.

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