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Ukraine's nuclear regulator said the largest nuclear power plant in Europe was 'captured by military forces of the Russian Federation' during an attack this morning, March 4.
The State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation (SINR) shared the news in a statement on Facebook after the Russian military launched shells at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and caused a fire at a nearby five-story training facility.
The fire is said to have burned for at least four hours as emergency responders were shot at by Russians as they tried to extinguish it, though Ukraine’s emergency services confirmed in a post on Facebook that 'at 06:20 [04:20 GMT] the fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims.'
A fire broke out in a training building at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe during intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, Ukraine's state emergency service said https://t.co/UHPUHQV76y pic.twitter.com/f6IPUGprLQ— Reuters (@Reuters) March 4, 2022
Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of resorting to 'nuclear terror' and expressed fears of an explosion as a result of the attack, while foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned: 'If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl.'
The SINR assured that 'Systems and elements, important for the safety of the nuclear power plant, are in working condition', Sky News reports.
The International Atomic Energy Agency assured the fire has not affected essential equipment or caused radiation levels to change, while US officials said reactors at the power station are protected by robust containment measures, and that they are now being safely shut down.
The American Nuclear Society added there is no indication of impending disaster, saying the 'real threat' to Ukraine 'continues to be the violent invasion and bombing of their country.'
Despite the assurances, Zelenskyy engaged in late-night phone calls with Western leaders and released a statement in which he claimed 'Only urgent action by Europe can stop the Russian troops.' The US Energy Department is said to have activated its nuclear response team as a precaution.
Sky News correspondent Greg Milam cited experts as saying the reactors 'should be able to withstand most things in terms of aircraft hitting it, they are designed to withstand an awful lot of impact', but noted the 'real concern' is fuel, saying: 'the idea of a leak of any radiation is a real concern.'
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one of the leaders to have spoken to Zelenskyy in the wake of the attack, witha spokesperson citing the PM as saying that the 'reckless actions of President Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe', and saying the UK would do 'everything' to assure the situation does not worsen.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Indiatoday/YouTube
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