Another power outage at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, which is surrounded by Russian troops, has lost all external power needed for vital safety systems for the second time in five days, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, calling the situation a « deeply disturbing development ».

The warning from the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, came amid a flurry of developments in Russia’s war in Ukraine. Ukraine’s military command said its forces had taken over five municipalities in the southern Kherson region, and Russia’s main internal security agency said eight people had been arrested in connection with the explosion on the bridge to Crimea at the end week.

Grossi, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, said IAEA monitors at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant ― Europe’s largest nuclear power plant ― reported the external power failure and said emergency diesel generators kept nuclear safety and security equipment operational.

« This repeated loss of offsite power to #ZNPP is a deeply worrying development and underscores the urgent need for a nuclear protection and safety zone around the site, » Grossi tweeted.

Ukrainian state nuclear operator Energoatom added on the Telegram platform that a Russian missile attack damaged the “Dniprovska” substation in the neighboring Dnipropetrovsk region, leading to the failure of a key communication line. to the factory ― triggering the automatic start of diesel generators.

Last month, Energoatom chief Petro Kotin told The Associated Press in an interview that the Zaporizhia plant usually has enough fuel to run diesel generators for only 10 days. He said these generators were « the station’s last defense before a radiological accident. »

The growing concerns over the nuclear power plant come amid an upsurge in fighting in southern Ukraine and a deluge of Russian strikes across the country in recent days.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, said Russian shelling had killed at least 14 people in the Zaporizhzhia region and Donetsk region to the east over the past day. At least 34 people were injured in five regions, he wrote on Telegram.

Early Wednesday, a Russian strike against a Donetsk market left seven dead and eight injured.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine’s Southern Command announced that its forces had recaptured five municipalities in the southern Kherson region, west of an arc of Russian control of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The villages of Novovasylivka, Novohryhorivka, Nova Kamianka, Tryfonivka and Chervone in the Beryslav district were taken over on October 11, according to the chairman of the southern command, Vladislav Nazarov.

The villages are in one of four regions recently annexed by Russia, a move condemned as illegal under international law by many countries and the UN secretary general.

Also on Wednesday, Russia’s main internal security agency ― the main successor to the KGB ― announced that it had arrested eight people accused of taking part in the bombing of the main bridge connecting Russia and Crimea, while a official of the city of Zaporizhia, in southern Ukraine, said that Russian forces carried out other strikes there.

The Federal Security Service, known by the Russian acronym FSB, said it had arrested five Russians and three Ukrainian and Armenian citizens in Saturday’s attack that damaged the Kerch Bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula — a a crucial supply and travel thoroughfare whose construction after Russia’s annexation of Crimea under Mr Putin in 2014 cost billions of dollars.

An explosive-laden truck exploded as it crossed the bridge, killing four people and causing two sections of one of the two car links to collapse.

Ukrainian officials welcomed the explosion at the bridge, but refrained from directly claiming responsibility.

The FSB alleged that the suspects were working on orders from Ukrainian military intelligence to secretly move the explosives to Russia and falsify accompanying documents.

He added that the explosives were moved by sea from the Ukrainian port of Odessa to Bulgaria before being shipped to Georgia, driven to Armenia and then back to Georgia before being transported to Russia as part of a complex plan to secretly deliver them to the target.

Mr Putin alleged Ukrainian special services orchestrated the blast, calling it an “act of terrorism”, and responded by ordering missile strikes across Ukraine.

Russia’s assault continued Wednesday in the Zaporizhia region and the eponymous city, smashing windows and blowing out doors in residential buildings, city council secretary Anatoliy Kurtev said. There were no immediate reports of casualties, although Mr Kurtev warned residents of the possibility of a follow-up attack.

Zaporizhia, which sits fairly close to the frontline between Russian and Ukrainian forces, has been repeatedly hit by often deadly attacks in recent weeks. It is part of a larger region, including Europe’s largest nuclear power plant now under Russian control, which Moscow has said it annexed in violation of international law. The city itself remains in Ukrainian hands.

To the south, in an area of ​​the region under Russian control, a powerful explosion hit the town of Melitopol, sending a car flying through the air, Mayor Ivan Fedorov said. No results were disclosed.


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