Geneva, 20 November 2022 (dpa/MIA) – The Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhya has been rocked by several powerful explosions, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Sunday.
IAEA experts on the ground had reported dozens of impacts near and on the site of Europe’s largest nuclear facility, the agency said in a statement.
The incidents on Saturday and Sunday “abruptly” ended a period of relative calm at the facility, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said according to the statement.
IAEA experts saw some of the explosions from their windows, the agency said.
The plant’s management reported damage to some buildings, systems and equipment. So far, however, the damage had not affected nuclear safety and nobody was injured.
The Russian Defence Ministry accused the Ukrainian armed forces of massively shelling the nuclear power plant with artillery since Saturday.
On Sunday morning alone, 12 large-calibre shells were aimed at the plant, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, according to Russian news agencies.
Eight projectiles hit between the reactor blocks and one hit the roof of a building, he said. Radiation around the nuclear power plant was normal, Konashenkov added.
“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately,” Grossi said in the IAEA statement. “As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”
The IAEA chief appealed once again to both sides to establish a safe zone around the facility where no attacks and fighting takes place. Intensive negotiations on this with both sides had not yet led to an agreement, he said.
Russia has effectively controlled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant since the beginning of March, when Moscow’s troops occupied large parts of southern Ukraine in the course of the war.
The nuclear plant has repeatedly come under fire in heavy fighting in recent months. Ukraine and Russia blame each other.