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Damage found on major Ukrainian dam after fears Russia could blow it up and flood area

Watch: Satellite imagery shows new damage to bridges and dam near Kherson

Significant damage has been found on a major hydroelectric dam in Ukraine following Russia's withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson.

Satellite images taken on Friday showed that the Nova Kakhovka dam and several bridges that cross the Dnipro river had been damaged.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had said Moscow would be “declaring war on the whole world” if it blew up the dam.

It comes after Ukrainian troops were greeted by joyous residents in the centre of Kherson city after Russian troops were ordered to retreat following a successful counter-offensive by Kyiv.

Read more: Ukraine war: Troops retake strategic city of Kherson as Zelenskyy hails 'historic day'

 A satellite image shows the Nova Kakhovka dam in Kherson, Ukraine. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)
A satellite image shows the Nova Kakhovka dam in Kherson, Ukraine. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)
Sections of the northern extent of the dam and sluice gates were damaged.
Sections of the northern extent of the dam and sluice gates were damaged. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

US satellite imagery company Maxar, which released the pictures, said: "Satellite images this morning ... reveal significant new damage to several bridges and the Nova Kakhovka dam in the aftermath of the Russian retreat from Kherson across the Dnipro river.”

It added sections of the northern extent of the dam and sluice gates had been "deliberately destroyed".

The possibility of Russia destroying the Kakhovka plant was previously raised by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a major US think tank.

The ISW said in its 21 October update: “Russian forces will likely attempt to blow up the dam at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) to cover their withdrawal and to prevent Ukrainian forces from pursuing Russian forces deeper into Kherson Oblast.

“Russian forces will almost certainly blame Ukraine for the dam attack.”

Watch: 'We feel free': CNN reporter speaks with newly-liberated Ukrainians in Kherson

Residents of Kherson temporarily living in Odessa, holding Ukrainian flags, celebrate the liberation of their native town in front of The Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre in Odessa, on November 12, 2022, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Residents of Kherson temporarily living in Odessa, celebrate the liberation of their native town. (Reuters)
KYIV, UKRAINE - NOVEMBER 12: People drink sparkling wine, waves flags and sing songs as they celebrate the liberation of part of the city of Kherson in Independence Square on November 12, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Ed Ram/Getty Images)
People celebrate in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Getty)

Both sides have repeatedly accused each of planning to breach the dam using explosives, which would flood much of the area downstream and likely cause major destruction around Kherson.

Sergey Surovikin, head of the Russian forces in Ukraine, said this week that Ukraine planned to flood the area below the power plant and Moscow also accused Kyiv of shelling the dam.

Ukraine has said Russia would be "crazy" to blow up the dam when such a move could flood areas under its control.

Read more: Banksy reveals mural in Ukrainian town that survived weeks of Russian occupation

Meanwhile, residents welcomed Ukrainian troops arriving in the centre of Kherson on Friday after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had captured since its invasion began in February.

The withdrawal marked the third major Russian retreat of the war and the first to involve yielding such a large occupied city in the face of a major Ukrainian counter-offensive that has retaken parts of the east and south.

"Today is a historic day. We are getting the south of the country back, we are getting Kherson back," Zelenskiy said in an evening video address.

Ukraine's defence intelligence agency said Kherson was being restored to Ukrainian control and ordered any remaining Russian troops to surrender to Kyiv's forces entering the city.