Pro-Russian authorities in the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson warned Sunday of severe damage to the dam at the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant from Ukrainian shelling and warned that thousands of people being evacuated from the nearby town of Nova Kakhovka are in danger of drowning if the structure eventually gives way.

Archive image of the Ukrainian war in the Kherson region. - Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA Press W / DPA

Archive image of the Ukrainian war in the Kherson region. –

“The degree of destruction is enormous, it must be said,” warned the Russian mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, before warning that a dam breach will endanger dozens of villages on both banks of the Dnieper River, now one of the major theaters of war in Ukraine.

The head of the Russian civil-military administration of the city, Pavel Filipchuk, yesterday ordered the evacuation of the locality in view of a possible advance of Ukrainian forces across the deteriorated bridges of the Dnieper or possible shelling from positions near Kherson city, on the other bank of the river and liberated this week by Ukraine.

For Leontiev, the collapse of the dam would be a catastrophe for the people who are in the process of evacuation. “Nova Kakhovka is downstream, which means that the height difference is 15, 16 meters. In the event of a breach, the wave will move downstream at a speed of 60 to 70 kilometers per hour,” according to statements picked up by the TASS agency.

For the time being, the locality and its surroundings will now become fortified zones to resist the Ukrainian advance while the citizens begin a very long journey eastwards, in the direction of the Russian locality of Tuapsé, in the Krasnodar region, 500 kilometers west of Kherson and passing the Crimean peninsula.