AP concludes at least hundreds died in floods after Ukraine dam collapse, far more than Russia said

by Ethan Kim
Oleshky dam collapse aftermath

The Associated Press has determined that the death toll from the catastrophic flood resulting from a dam collapse in Ukraine is significantly higher than Russian reports indicate. In Oleshky, a town in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine, the disaster left an indelible mark on the community. Locals struggled to identify many of the victims due to their disfigured state, yet they recognized Yurii Bilyi, a well-known 56-year-old TV repairman. His daughter, Anastasiia Bila, recalls their last conversation amidst the rapidly rising floodwaters that eventually claimed his life.

The flood, caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in the Kherson region, has been identified by an AP investigation as one of the war’s most devastating events. The Russian occupation’s control over death certificate issuance and their interference with local efforts to manage the crisis have obscured the true extent of the tragedy. Despite Russian claims of 59 deaths in the 408 square kilometers (160 square miles) of affected areas, evidence suggests that the death toll in Oleshky alone, a town with a pre-war population of 16,000, is in the hundreds.

Accounts from health workers, volunteers, and Ukrainian informants reveal a pattern of mass graves, unclaimed bodies, and Russian efforts to minimize the disaster’s visibility. The AP’s investigation involved interviews with residents, rescue volunteers, and those who have since fled the area. These sources paint a picture of a community overwhelmed by the sudden flood, with reports of bodies lying in streets and hastily arranged burials.

Local health workers, who continued to operate under Russian occupation, faced challenges in documenting the deaths. The Russian authorities eventually forbade the issuance of death certificates for flood victims, further complicating efforts to record the true scale of the disaster.

The situation in Oleshky remains dire, with many homes destroyed and a significant portion of the population missing or displaced. The town, once a vibrant community, now faces deep divisions and enduring traumas as the conflict continues to unfold. The full extent of the tragedy may only be uncovered if Ukrainian forces retake the territory and conduct a thorough investigation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Oleshky dam collapse aftermath

What caused the catastrophic flooding in Oleshky, Ukraine?

The catastrophic flooding in Oleshky, Ukraine, was caused by the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam in the southern Kherson region. This event resulted in extensive flooding along the Dnipro River, impacting both Ukraine-controlled and Russian-occupied areas.

How many casualties were reported in Oleshky due to the dam collapse?

While Russian authorities reported only 59 deaths in the territory they control, investigations and local accounts suggest that the death toll in Oleshky alone is at least in the hundreds. The exact number may never be known due to the Russian occupation’s control over the issuance of death certificates and the handling of the dead.

What challenges did local health workers face in Oleshky after the flood?

Local health workers in Oleshky faced significant challenges after the flood. The Russian authorities forbade them from issuing death certificates for flood victims, which hindered their ability to keep accurate records of the dead. This directive was part of a broader effort to minimize the visibility of the disaster’s true impact.

How did the Russian occupation authorities handle the aftermath of the flood?

The Russian occupation authorities took control of the issuance of death certificates, immediately removed bodies not claimed by family, and prevented local health workers and volunteers from managing the situation. They also threatened locals who tried to document the aftermath, leading to a lack of transparency about the disaster’s true scale.

What are the current conditions in Oleshky following the flood?

Oleshky remains in a dire state following the flood, with many homes destroyed and a significant part of the population either missing or displaced. The community faces deep divisions and ongoing traumas as the war continues, and the full extent of the flood’s impact may only be revealed if Ukrainian forces retake the territory and conduct a thorough investigation.

More about Oleshky dam collapse aftermath

  • Understanding the Kakhovka Dam Collapse
  • The Human Impact of Ukraine’s Flood Disaster
  • Oleshky’s Struggle Under Russian Occupation
  • Documenting the Aftermath of the Oleshky Flood
  • The Role of Local Health Workers in Crisis Management
  • Russia’s Information Control in Occupied Ukraine
  • The Ongoing Trauma in Flood-Affected Ukrainian Towns
  • Investigating War-Related Environmental Disasters
  • The Challenges of Accurate Death Toll Reporting in Conflict Zones
  • The Resilience of Communities in Face of Natural Disasters and War

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GlobalObserver December 28, 2023 - 10:45 am

this story shows the human cost of conflicts and disasters. we must remember and help those affected.

InformedCitizen December 28, 2023 - 1:32 pm

wait, did the russians cause the dam to collapse? that’s crazy if true!

UkrainianPatriot December 29, 2023 - 1:48 am

those brave health workers in oleshky did their best despite all odds. hats off to them!

Reader123 December 29, 2023 - 4:05 am

wow this is a really sad story? so many ppl sufferin in oleshky and the russians trying to hide the truth, its just not right

CuriousMind December 29, 2023 - 6:57 am

i hope ukraine can retake the territory soon and find out the real numbers. this is heartbreaking


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