A Ukrainian official on Friday said that following the fire at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which has now been extinguished after it erupted earlier in the day due to Russian firing, has caused heavy injuries.
Speaking to a local broadcaster, Dmytro Orlov, the Mayor of Energodar city which is about 120 km from Zaporizhzhya, confirmed that there were people with “heavy injuries”, adding that “we can’t take them to the hospital”, Ukrayinska Pravda reported.
The Mayor did not give out the exact number of the injured persons.
Elaborating on the incident, Orlov said: “Yesterday (Thursday) at around 4.30 p.m, an enemy convoy of armoured vehicles broke into the town, went directly to the nuclear power plant and began to shell from a close distance buildings and structures of the nuclear power plant… The fire caught up.”
Head of Regional State Administration Oleksandr Starukh also told the broadcaster that “the evacuation of Energodar residents will not happen immediately.”
“However, the evacuation plan is already being prepared, despite the fact that the infrastructure has been destroyed and Russian troops are still present around,” he added.
According to the country’s State Emergency Services, the fire broke out on the third, fourth and fifth floor of the training building at the nuclear plant, which is the largest in Europe.
The Services said the fire was extinguished at about 6.20 a.m. after the responders entered the site at 5.20 a.m, adding that “there are no victims”.
Shortly after the fire broke out, President Volodymyr Zelensky urged leaders across the continent to “wake up” and take “immediate action” against Russia.
In a video posted on Twitter, the President said that “the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe is on fire right now” and accused Russian troops of deliberately shooting at the plant’s six reactors using tanks equipped with thermal imaging, reports the BBC.
Invoking the “global catastrophe” at Chernobyl in 1986, he warned the consequences of a meltdown at Zaporizhzhia would be far worse.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had warned that if the nuclear plant blew up as a result of the fire then the catastrophe would be “10 times larger” than the Chernobyl disaster.
Acting Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Ruslan Strilets had said that the repercussions of the incident could lead to a global disaster.
Ukraine currently has four active nuclear plants, including Zaporizhzhia which reportedly accounts for some 25 per cent of the country’s power, the BBC reported.
It also deals with nuclear waste at sites like Chernobyl, which is now under Russian control.
Friday’s development came on the ninth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.