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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Russian shelling kills flood rescue worker in Kherson, Ukrainian officials say

The shelling that killed one emergency worker and injured eight others Tuesday was part of dozens of Russian strikes on the Kherson region over a 24-hour period.

By Cassandra VIinograd

Russian forces opened fire on rescue workers in the flood-stricken Ukrainian city of Kherson on Tuesday, killing one and injuring eight others responding to the catastrophic effects of a major dam’s destruction.

The monthslong bombardment of Kherson, which Russian soldiers once occupied in southern Ukraine, has not let up since an explosion two weeks ago destroyed the Kakhovka dam upstream on the Dnieper River and unleashed torrents of floodwaters. Emergency workers have struggled under artillery fire to evacuate thousands of people from submerged homes while also responding to the devastation.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s interior ministry said unarmed State Emergency Service workers in Kherson had come under “heavy shelling.” Calling the workers heroes, it said in a statement that “killing rescuers during the elimination of one of the largest man-made disasters” was “a manifestation of fear.”

Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, said on the Telegram messaging app that the Russian army had fired at rescue workers who were clearing silt.

Aid workers have said that the active fighting in the region has created huge hurdles to delivering help, already complicated by the flooding itself. Even as the waters have receded, the consequences of the disaster have spread. Pollutants and pathogens moving downstream on the Dnieper River and into the Black Sea have prompted the Ukrainian health authorities to warn about the risk of waterborne disease.

The shelling that killed the emergency workers Tuesday was part of dozens of Russian strikes on the Kherson region over the past 24 hours. A man was killed in shelling Tuesday morning and an ambulance crew also came under fire, according to the regional military administration.

A total of 57 strikes — from mortars, artillery, tanks and rockets — hit the region Monday, it said in a separate statement, adding that five people were injured in those attacks.

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