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Five dead as Putin's troops fire missiles on Ukraine's biggest dam in Dnipro

Smoke and fire rise over the Dnipro hydroelectric power plant after Russian attacks (AP)
Smoke and fire rise over the Dnipro hydroelectric power plant after Russian attacks (AP)

At least five people have died after Vladimir Putin’s military unleashed a huge overnight attack on Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that nearly 90 missiles and 60 drones were used to blitz electrical power facilities in much of Ukraine, including the country's largest hydroelectric plant.

Some 1.2 million people in at least four regions were left without power due to the attacks, presidential aide Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.

The plant is occupied by Russian troops, and fighting around the plant has been a constant concern because of the potential for a nuclear accident.

Russian energy minister German Galushchenko said the overnight drone and rocket attacks were "the largest attack on the Ukrainian energy sector in recent times”.

He added: "The goal is not just to damage, but to try again, like last year, to cause a large-scale disruption of the country's energy system."

A dam breach could not only disrupt supplies to the nuclear plant but would potentially cause severe flooding similar to what occurred last year when a major dam at Kakhovka further down the Dnieper collapsed.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Mr Zelensky said: "The world sees the targets of Russian terrorists as clearly as possible: power plants and energy supply lines, a hydroelectric dam, ordinary residential buildings, even a trolleybus.”

Ukrhydroenerho, which runs Ukraine's network of dams, said there has been a fire at the station and that emergency services are working on the spot.

Ukraine’s energy grid was receiving urgent assistance from Poland, Romania and Slovakia after the air strikes that damaged energy facilities and left more than one million people without power

Ukraine’s nuclear power company said the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which requires constant external power to prevent a disaster, was on the verge of a blackout after Russia struck the nearby hydro-electric dam.

Ukraine's energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said it was the largest attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure in the recent past.

"The goal is not just to damage, but to try again, like last year, to cause a large-scale failure of the country's energy system," he wrote on Facebook.

In western Khmelnytskyi region, Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne cited a local official that one person had been killed and more injured by a Russian attack that damaged critical infrastructure.

The mayor of the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, said traffic lights in Ukraine's second-largest city were not working as a result of strikes on power facilities.

Meanwhile, Suspilne cited the country's largest private energy company DTEK as saying that Russia had launched a mass attack on energy facilities and hit some of the company's thermal power plants.

The company warned of power outages in the south-eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk, according to the broadcaster.

Russia has targeted Ukraine’s power and water infrastructure earlier in the war in failed attempts to break the will of the country’s people in resisting Putin’s invasion launched in February 2022.

The latest onslaught cam after a heavy missile attack on Kyiv early on Thursday, injuring at least 17 people including an 11-year-old girl.