Some people in flooded Russian-controlled Ukraine still need rescuing, say relatives

By Lucy Papachristou

(Reuters) – Some relatives of people stranded in flooded villages following the collapse of the giant Nova Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine said on Friday that their loved ones were still stuck on roofs with dwindling food supplies and urgently needed rescuing.

Volunteers and workers from Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry have been evacuating people from flooded Russian-controlled areas since Tuesday’s disaster – which Moscow and Kyiv blame on each other.

The Kremlin has praised the rescue efforts, as have some of the people who have been evacuated to safety.

But some volunteers and relatives of those living in the flood zone on the Russian-controlled left (east) bank of the River Dnipro on Friday wrote urgent messages pleading for the rescues of villagers.

Many of those who still need rescuing were elderly and suffered from heart conditions or diabetes, and some of them had spent days on their rooftops with dwindling reserves of food and water, they said.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-appointed head of Ukraine’s Kherson region, said on Friday that the death toll from the flooding had risen to eight and that nearly 6,000 residents had been evacuated.

Several people told Reuters they had repeatedly called hotlines for Russian emergency services to rescue their relatives, but to no avail.

One woman, who only gave her name as Olya, said her relatives spent two days on the roof of their home in Oleshky, one of the hard-hit villages, until they were rescued by a civilian passing by on a boat.


“I sent a request (for evacuation) to the emergency services, but still no one came. Many other people have also sent requests and no one has come to evacuate them,” Olya said.

Some people said they couldn’t persuade their relatives to evacuate, with some preferring to wait until the floodwaters retreated.

“I tried to persuade her to evacuate anyway, but she said flatly that she would not go anywhere,” one woman wrote of her grandmother, who took food and water up to her attic in Oleshky. “She’s stubborn.”

Another woman, Natalya, who lives farther inland in Nova Kakhovka, told Reuters her house wasn’t flooded and she saw no reason to leave.

“We have a garden, we are now digging potatoes, carrots. This is money!” she said. “We are not evacuating because we hope for the best. Nobody wants to be homeless!”

Pavel Stebo, who owns a guesthouse in the Black Sea resort town of Zhelezniy Port some 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of the most heavily-affected villages, said many people had driven to his town from the flooded areas and that others were coming in small buses organised by volunteers.

He said he had offered free accommodation to five families, including children and elderly people.

“People do not stop writing, asking if there are still places left,” said Stebo, who expects at least 50 more evacuees to arrive in the coming days.

“We have 85 rooms in total, for a total of 200 people. We will accept everyone in need,” he said.

(Reporting by Lucy Papachristou; Editing by Andrew Osborn and William Maclean)