On Tuesday, the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine was breached as a result of a large explosion.
The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant lies on the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, and is currently under Russian control.
While the cause of the blast is yet to be determined – with Kyiv and NATO blaming Russia and Moscow claiming the Ukrainian military is behind it – the consequences are clear.
The deluge of water has caused widespread flooding in the area downstream, where 42,000 people on the river’s banks have been urged to evacuate.
Flooding has been reported in the city of Nova Kakhovka itself, as well as near Korsunka, Krynky, Kozachi and the regional capital of Kherson. Express.co.uk has gathered satellite imagery that shows the extent of the disaster.
READ MORE: Ukraine ‘loses’ exploding land mines as they float downstream after dam breach
Built in the Soviet era, the dam is the third-largest in Europe at 30 metres (96 feet) tall and three kilometres wide (two miles). The reservoir it held back contained some 18 cubic kilometres of water.
Its operator, UkrHydroEnerho has said the station was “fully destroyed” and could not be restored.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky believed 80 towns and villages were at risk of flooding.
Satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies shows these worst fears were realised, as vast swathes of urban areas and agricultural land appear submerged. Drag the slider on the pictures to compare before to the aftermath.
Ukraine’s ministry for agriculture has said the flooding could turn over 500,000 hectares of arable land into “deserts”.
President Zelenskyy has called it an act of “mass environmental destruction”. The canal system that irrigates much of the south of the country – including Russian-annexed Crimea – is thought to be severely damaged.
Ukrainian military intelligence claims the scale of the “ecological disaster” caused was likely to “go far beyond the borders of Ukraine and affect the entire Black Sea region.”
An estimated 150 tonnes of industrial lubricant is thought to have leaked into the Dnipro’s waters already, with a further 300 tonnes at risk of doing so too, posing a serious public health risk.
The energy grid is also under threat. Aside from the loss of the hydroelectric plant producing 1.4TWh of electricity in itself, the Kakhovka Reservoir is also used to cool the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, 100 miles upstream.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi assuaged fears of an imminent meltdown by saying the plant should have enough water to cool its reactors for “some months” thanks to a pond located above the depleted reservoir.
The Red Cross has also sounded the alarm as the flooding makes locating landmines near impossible. Erik Tollefsen, head of the organisation’s weapon contamination unit, said that before the dam was breached they “knew where the hazards were”.
Speaking to AFP, he added: “Now we don’t know. All we know is that they are somewhere downstream.”
While in Ukraine on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly shied from accusing Russia of causing the disaster directly, saying: “I’ve heard reports of the explosion on the dam and the risk of flooding. It’s too early to make any kind of meaningful assessment of the details.
“But it’s worth remembering that the only reason this is an issue at all is because of Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
The World Bank has offered to conduct a rapid assessment of the damage, most of which is currently still underwater.