‘Mad panic’ in Ukraine as Russia evacuates town near Zaporizhzhia plant
Russia has sparked a “mad panic” as it evacuates a town near the contested Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a Ukrainian official says.
Russia has told people to leave 18 settlements in the Zaporizhzhia region, including Enerhodar near the plant, ahead of Kyiv’s anticipated offensive.
The Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, said there were five-hour waits as thousands of cars left.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog warned a “severe nuclear accident” could occur.
Rafael Grossi – the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – said the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant was “becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous”.
The IAEA statement said that “while operating staff remain at the site” there was “deep concern about the increasingly tense, stressful, and challenging conditions for personnel and their families”.
It said IAEA experts at the plant had “received information that the announced evacuation of residents from the nearby town of Enerhodar – where most plant staff live – has started”.
On Friday, the Russian-installed regional head Yevgeny Balitsky said that “in the past few days, the enemy has stepped up shelling of settlements close to the front line”.