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Dozens perish in flooded Oleshky, Russian Emergencies Ministry bans rescue boats from entering town, fearing sabotage groups, says volunteer

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Over 30 people have died on Vulytsya Nyzhnya (Lower Street) in the Russian-occupied town of Oleshky on the left bank of the Dnipro River during the flood unleashed by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on June 6, local volunteer Elena told The Insider, citing direct reports from residents. “This street has already gone under, the chances of saving anyone there are very small,” she added.

«The [Russian] Emergency Ministry is blocking the way for our volunteers and boaters, and the situation is heading towards a complete disaster. They’re [the Russian forces] afraid of [sabotage and reconnaissance groups], and they’re not hiding it. They’re all in fear right now, shooting at the settlements that are under water. They came to one of the settlements, took people with Russian passports, but they did not let them go anywhere else. They took them to the dry zones in the center of Oleshky and drove on. I got this information directly from relatives and neighbors.”

According to Elena, Russian rescuers check residents' documents, and those who show them Ukrainian passports are refused assistance. Volunteers who try to get into the city in their boats are offered to hand them over to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations. According to Elena, the water in Oleshky “has stopped at a critical level,” while it continues to rise in settlements in the direction of Hola Prystan.

A correspondent for The Insider called Russia’s rescue service in Oleshky, pretending to be a local resident, and asked if the region’s “authorities” evacuate people without Russian passports, to which the operator replied: “Of course.”

  • Oleshky
  • Oleshky

The Ukrainian mayor of Oleshky, Yevhen Ryshchuk, has reported that he knows of at least three confirmed deaths. On June 8, Ryshchuk also wrote that Russian forces shelled the building of School No. 2, which houses people fleeing the flood.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told international journalists that many people have died on the left, occupied, bank of the Dnipro River, adding that local residents sitting on rooftops often see dead bodies floating downstream. According to Zelensky, the Ukrainian military is trying to help people on the left bank, but they are being shelled by Russian soldiers who control the territory.

On June 8, the Russia-installed “head” of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, acknowledged the deaths of five Kherson region residents. Another 60 people have been hospitalized. On the same day, the “governor” of the occupied Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, wrote in his Telegram channel that 4,300 people, including 171 children, had been evacuated from the disaster zone. The day before, Saldo claimed on Russian state TV that only children were being evacuated, while adults apparently refused to leave and waited quietly for the water to recede.

The day before, two other volunteers told The Insider that Russian soldiers and officials from the Ministry of Emergency Services were barring rescuers from entering the disaster zone. According to the volunteers, they are currently trying to coordinate people in the flooded areas remotely, so that those who have boats can help others reach dry land.

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