Several Russian soldiers occupying a Ukrainian nuclear power plant have died in an unexplained “accident” at the plant, the region’s mayor said.
Some soldiers “were so scared that they ran around the station in a panic,” said Dmitry Orlov, the exiled mayor of Energodar, in southern Ukraine.
Energodar is home to the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, which supplies a fifth of Ukraine’s energy needs.
On March 4, the plant was captured by the advancing Russian troops.
Under Russian control, it continues to produce electricity. However, there are reports that an armory is also being used, with several rocket launchers relocated to the territory of the station on the banks of the strategically important Dnieper River.
Kyiv controls the northern bank of the Dnieper, opposite the power plant, including the main regional center of Zaporozhye and the small town of Nikopol.
The Ukrainian government has said Russian troops are using weapons based at the plant to bombard cities on the other side of the waterway.
Mayor Orlov took to social media on Monday Telegram to say that an “event” occurred at the power plant, but the details are unclear.
“What is known for sure (is that) that in the afternoon, nine servicemen of a terrorist country (Russia) were urgently taken to a city hospital with injuries of varying severity.
“Someone is being treated on an outpatient basis, someone is hospitalized. One of them is in serious condition – in intensive care, ”he wrote.
“There are also dead, but we cannot give an exact number at the moment.”
Mr. Orlov went on to say that he “has no idea” what led to the “thinning of the ranks” of the occupiers.
We can only add that “orcs” (an expletive used to refer to Russian soldiers) were so frightened that they ran around the station in a panic.
“For a long time, two shifts of operational personnel were blocked, which were supposed to replace each other,” he said.
“The invaders continue to look for enemies. And, perhaps, they are beginning to realize that the cynical shelling of neighboring settlements, carried out by them from the territory of the nuclear power plant, will not go unnoticed for them.”
It is not known if the accident was at the nuclear power plant itself, whether it was inside the plant or the weapons stored there, or if the plant was attacked by Ukrainian forces from the other side of the river.
The incident has not been confirmed by other sources.
Russia launches rockets from a nuclear power plant
It is known that Russian troops shelled Nikopol, located on the northern bank of the Dnieper, from the Zaporozhye power plant.
On Monday, rockets destroyed 10 houses in a city of 100,000. Two people were killed in a similar attack on Saturday, when 53 rockets were fired at Nikopol.
Russian news agency TASS reported on the statements of the occupation administration of Energodar that in recent days the plant had been subjected to “massive shelling” by the Ukrainian military.
There were reports that four shells fired from the other side of the Dnieper fell on the plant and that the shelling threatened a “man-made disaster.”
It is believed that up to 500 Russian soldiers are now based at the nuclear power plant.
When it was captured, there were fears that a nuclear accident could occur due to heavy shelling of the station’s six reactors.
If Russia retains control of the Zaporozhye power plant, it hopes to eventually use it to power the Crimean region, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Last week, the Moscow-backed separatist authorities in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye region, including the plant, said they planned to hold a referendum this year on joining Russia.
“We will hold a referendum this fall,” said Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Moscow-appointed administration.
He insisted that the plebiscite would be “transparent”.
“We want to join Russia as the Zaporozhye region,” he told reporters during a briefing organized by the Russian Defense Ministry with the participation of AFP.