Ukraine city attacked, blackout at nuke plant

A diesel generator can cool the nuclear reactors in Zaporizhzhia for only 10 days

A couple walks past a damaged building in the Azov Sea port city of Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine on April 8, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Russia attacked an eastern Ukrainian city with missiles and drones overnight while a nuclear plant lost power forcing a fuel generator to supply it with electricity but only up to 10 days.

Ukraine’s army said Monday that 16 missiles and 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones attacked Dnipro since Sunday night.

Its air defenses destroyed all the drones and four of the cruise missiles, according to the army.

A 25-year-old man was injured by a missile attack in one district and seven were injured in another district including two women in their 50s and 70s, regional governor Sergiy Lysak wrote on Telegram.

Ukraine’s emergency service posted footage of fire stations with roofs blown off and fire engines torn apart.

It said one of its rescuers was injured, while three of its buildings and more than 20 pieces of equipment were destroyed.

Meanwhile, the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been cut off from the power grid again, risking a radioactive accident without continuous electricity to cool its reactors.

“Due to a high-tension line being cut, the plant lost its external electricity supply,” the Russian administration wrote on Telegram, adding the causes of the outage were being investigated and that back-up diesel generators were keeping it working.

Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom accused Russia of carrying out an attack on Monday morning that caused the power cut, saying it was the seventh instance of the plant entering “blackout mode” since Moscow’s troops took control in March 2022.

Energoatom said the generators had enough fuel reserves to last 10 days.

“If it is impossible to restore external power to the plant during this time, an accident with radiation consequences for the whole world may occur,” it warned.

The last power cut at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant located in southeastern Ukraine, had been caused by another wave of Russian missile attacks, Energoatom said.

The external power supply was restored after a few hours on that occasion.

Zaporizhzhia used to supply around 20 percent of Ukraine’s electricity and continued to function in the early months of Russia’s offensive despite frequent shelling, before halting power production in September.

None of its six Soviet-era reactors has since generated electricity, but the facility remains connected to the Ukrainian power grid for its own needs, notably to cool the reactors.

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