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Home ยป ‘We Barely Made It’: Elderly Ukrainians Weep After Escaping Floodwaters And Russian Fire

‘We Barely Made It’: Elderly Ukrainians Weep After Escaping Floodwaters And Russian Fire

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There was a steady stream of boat landings throughout the day in Kherson city in southern Ukraine as the rescue efforts were ramped up to reach those stranded by floodwaters.

The water levels rose about 11 feet in about 24 hours according to emergency services, with some areas reaching a depth of 17 feet.

It meant those who had stayed in their homes overnight awoke to find themselves stranded the day after the destruction of the enormous Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president said the priority was evacuating those trapped in their homes and providing fresh drinking water to an area where they predict there are going to be serious supply challenges in the very near future.

We watched as a flotilla of rescue boats serviced by police, troops and eager volunteers searched the newly flooded streets of Kherson.

Amphibious vehicles like the Ukrainian-made Sherp were brought in with its huge, specialised inflatable wheels to try to help in the rescue attempts.

It turned out to be of less use than small rubber dinghies which have been forced to manoeuvre their way through broken electrical lines, submerged trees and trailing branches to try to reach trapped residents.

“Turn around, it’ll be easier,” volunteer Mykola urged one of the pensioners he was rescuing from the third floor of an apartment block.

Putin reacts to dam collapse – follow Ukraine war live updates

Image: A rescue effort is under way in Kherson The two floors downstairs are now utterly submerged. “I can’t go inside my home at all,” one resident shouted to our boat, “The water is way over our heads in there now”.

Mykola tells us there are still a lot of people stranded after believing the waters wouldn’t rise so high.

The predictions are the levels are likely to go up a few inches more before they hope they will start to recede – but it could take a week for them to go down entirely.

Until then it is going to be difficult to assess the long-term impact of this catastrophic dam burst – which the Russian authorities are continuing to deny responsibility for.

Image: Stranded elderly people who lived alone have had to be rescued But Vladimir Putin’s enemies are in no mood to listen to his protestations with the United Nations, America and European countries all lining up to blame him.

The US admitted it did not have any firm evidence but Western officials seem to be basing their assumptions on the fact the dam has been largely under the control of Russian forces since the beginning of the war.

Read more:

Analysis: Putin’s dam attack is a dangerous escalation

Five environmental impacts of Ukraine dam collapse

Before-and-after images of devastation after dam destroyed

Putin loyalists, however, are still blaming the Ukrainians as the Russian leader announced he too would be launching a criminal investigation to discover exactly what happened.

There are several witnesses saying that the Russians have been continuing to attack those trying to flee the territory they control on the other side of the flooded Dnipro River.

Two boats carrying old people and family members landed in Kherson saying they’d fled Russian troops from the east bank. They went on to say the Russians had also looted their summer homes and been bombing the beaches.

Image: Olga says Russian forces attacked as she fled to Kherson

Olga wept with relief as she told us: “The current was so powerful, we barely made it.”

She was hugged and consoled by her friends as they all sat round the few bags of possessions they’d managed to take with them.

“When we were in Dachi, all our boats had been sunk and the Russians were looting our summer houses and taking our boat engines. They were taking everything. Our guys just managed to save our two boats.”

She’s overwhelmed with emotion as reaching dry land. But the challenges in this area are likely to mount in the coming days and weeks when the full scale of the disaster is finally known.