Chernobyl nuclear power plant site has been cut off from the power grid and generators are on, Ukraine says

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian authorities said the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, has been cut off from the power grid. Standby generators now provide backup power.

The state communications agency said the outage could endanger nuclear material cooling systems.

The cause of the damage to the power line serving Chernobyl was not immediately clear, but it comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The site has been under the control of Russian troops since last week.

Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenerho said that according to the state nuclear regulator, all Chernobyl facilities are without electricity and diesel generators have fuel for 48 hours. Without electricity, “nuclear and radiation safety parameters” cannot be controlled, he said.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the power grid was damaged and called for a ceasefire to allow repairs.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Renewed efforts to evacuate civilians from besieged and bombed Ukrainian cities were underway Wednesday as authorities seek to rescue people from increasingly dire conditions. Days of shelling have largely cut off residents of the southern city of Mariupol from the outside world and forced them to seek food and water.

Authorities announced a new ceasefire to allow civilians to escape from Mariupol, Sumy in the northeast, Enerhodar in the south, Volnovakha in the southeast, Izyum in the east and from several cities in the region around the capital, Kiev.

Previous attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors have largely failed due to attacks by Russian forces, and there were few details of Wednesday’s new effort. It was not clear if anyone had been able to leave Mariupol, but some people began to move out of the outskirts of Kiev, even as air raid sirens repeatedly sounded in the capital and explosions could be there. heard.

Mariupol, which almost half of the population of 430,000 hopes to flee, has been surrounded by Russian forces for days. Corpses lie in the streets and people enter shops in search of food and melt snow for water. Thousands of people are huddled in the basements, sheltered from the Russian shells pounding this strategic port on the Sea of ​​Azov.

“Why shouldn’t I cry? resident Goma Janna asked, crying in the light of an underground oil lamp, surrounded by women and children. “I want my house, I want my job. I am so sad for the people and for the city, the children.

Thousands of people have reportedly been killed, both civilians and soldiers, in the two weeks of fighting since the invasion by President Vladimir Putin’s forces. The UN estimates that more than 2 million people have fled the country, the largest refugee exodus in Europe since the end of World War II.

The crisis is likely to escalate as Russian forces step up their bombardment of cities across the country in response to stronger-than-expected resistance from Ukrainian forces. Russian casualties were “far greater” than Putin and his generals expected, CIA Director William Burns said on Tuesday.

An intensified push by Russian forces could mean “ugly weeks ahead,” Burns told a congressional committee, warning that Putin was likely to “reduce Ukraine’s military regardless of civilian casualties.”

The British Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that fighting was continuing northwest of Kyiv. The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol are heavily bombarded and remain surrounded by Russian forces.

Russian forces are placing military equipment on farms and amid residential buildings in the northern city of Chernihiv, the Ukrainian General Staff said. In the south, Russians dressed in civilian clothes are advancing towards the city of Mykolaiv, a Black Sea shipbuilding center of half a million people, he added.

The Ukrainian army, meanwhile, is building defenses in northern, southern and eastern cities, and forces around Kiev are “holding the line” against the Russian offensive.

This resistance is tougher than many expected – and Western nations are now rushing to bolster their strength. Ukraine’s president has repeatedly advocated for warplanes to counter Russia’s massive air power, but Western nations disagree on the best way to do so, fearing it will increase the risk that the war does not spread beyond Ukraine.

Poland offered on Tuesday night to donate 28 MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States for use in Ukraine. US officials said the proposal was “untenable”, but they would continue to consult with Poland and other NATO allies.

In addition to material support for Ukraine, Western countries have sought to pressure Russia through a series of punitive sanctions. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden upped the ante yet again, saying the United States would ban all imports of Russian oil, even if it meant increased costs for Americans.

Energy exports have maintained a steady flow of cash to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions that have largely cut off its economy from the world. McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Electric have all announced they are temporarily suspending operations in the country, furthering this isolation.

The movements have done little to mitigate the conflict so far.

A series of air alerts on Wednesday morning urged residents of the capital to go to bomb shelters, fearing the arrival of missiles. Associated Press reporters then heard explosions.

Such alerts are common, though erratic, which keeps people on their toes. Kyiv has been relatively calm in recent days, although Russian artillery has pounded the outskirts of the city.

In this outskirts, police and soldiers on Tuesday helped elderly residents to leave their homes. People huddled under a destroyed bridge before crossing a river on slippery wooden planks as they tried to escape from Irpin, a town of 60,000 people that has been the target of Russian bombardment.

Kyiv regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said the crisis for civilians was deepening in the capital, with the situation particularly critical in the city’s suburbs.

“Russia is artificially creating a humanitarian crisis in the Kyiv region, preventing the evacuation of people and continuing to shell and shell small communities,” he said.

Amid the shelling, authorities repeatedly attempted to evacuate civilians, but many attempts were thwarted by Russian shelling.

An evacuation appeared successful on Tuesday, with Ukrainian authorities saying 5,000 civilians, including 1,700 foreign students, had managed to escape from Sumy, a besieged northeast city of a quarter of a million people.

That corridor was due to reopen for 12 hours on Wednesday, with buses taking people southwest to the city of Poltava the day before the return to pick up more refugees, regional administration chief Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said.

Priority is given to pregnant women, women with children, the elderly and the disabled.

In the south, Russian troops advanced deep along Ukraine’s coast in a bid to establish a land bridge to Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

This left Mariupol surrounded by Russian forces.

On Tuesday, an attempt to evacuate civilians and deliver much-needed food, water and medicine failed, with Ukrainian officials saying Russian forces fired on the convoy before it reached the town.

Natalia Mudrenko, a senior official in Ukraine’s UN mission, told the Security Council that the people of Mariupol had “effectively been taken hostage” by the siege. Her voice shook with emotion as she described the death of a 6-year-old girl shortly after her mother was killed by Russian shelling. “She was alone in the last moments of her life,” she said.

The theft has spread across the city as beleaguered residents search for food, clothing and even furniture. Some inhabitants are reduced to drawing water from streams. Authorities say they plan to start digging mass graves for the dead.

With the electricity out, many people rely on their car radios for news, picking up news from stations broadcast from areas controlled by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.

Ludmila Amelkina, who was walking along an alley strewn with rubble and walls riddled with gunfire, said the destruction had been devastating.

“We don’t have electricity, we don’t have anything to eat, we don’t have medicine. We have nothing, she said looking up at the sky.

Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.

Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine




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