A Russian soldier guards an area of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station in an area controlled by Russian forces in southeastern Ukraine. Photo / AP
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog is expressing growing concern about the safety of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant after the governor of Russia’s occupied territory ordered the evacuation of a town.
The plant is near the front lines of the fighting, and Ukrainian officials said on Sunday that a 72-year-old woman was killed and three others wounded after Russian forces fired more than 30 shells into Nikopol, a Ukrainian-held city of the plant. Near. ,
“The general situation in the vicinity of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous,” Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a warning issued on Saturday ahead of the latest reports of attacks.
“I am extremely concerned about the very real nuclear safety and security risks facing the plant.”
Grossi’s comments were prompted in part by an announcement on Friday by Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-installed governor of the partially occupied Zaporizhia province, that he had ordered the evacuation of civilians from 18 settlements in the region, including Enrhodar, which lies next to Is. Power plant – the largest in Europe.
The affected settlements are about 50 to 70 km from the front line of fighting between Ukraine and Russia, and Balitsky said Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the region over the past several days.
The region is also widely seen as a potential area where Ukraine could focus its anticipated spring counter-offensive.
The Ukrainian General Staff said on Sunday that work had begun to evacuate Enrhodar.
According to an update posted on Facebook, the General Staff said the first residents evacuated were those who had taken Russian citizenship after the city was captured by Moscow at the start of the war.
They were being taken to the Russian-occupied Sea of Azov coast, some 200 km to the southeast.
Grossi said the operating staff at the nuclear power plant, whose six reactors are all in shutdown mode, had not been evacuated as of Saturday, but most remain at Enrhodar and the situation has created an “increasingly stressful, stressful and challenging situation” for the personnel. Contributed to. and their families”.
He added that IAEA experts “are regularly hearing gunfire” at the nuclear site.
“We must act now to prevent the threat of a serious nuclear accident and its associated consequences for populations and the environment,” Grossi said. “This major nuclear facility must be protected. I will continue to push for commitment by all parties to achieve this important objective.”
Elsewhere, Russian shelling in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Saturday and overnight killed six civilians and wounded four others. Wire The local administration issued an update on Sunday.
Five civilians were wounded in the eastern Donetsk region, the epicenter of fighting in recent months, local governor Pavlo Kirilenko said on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, a Kremlin-installed local official said Ukrainian forces attacked the largest port in Russia’s occupied Crimean peninsula with drones overnight. Wire Sunday early.
According to a post by Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev, 10 Ukrainian drones targeted the city, three of which were shot down by air defense systems. Razvozhayev said that there was no damage.