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Kiev, June 19 – Beaches in Ukraine’s Odesa region have been closed off after dirty water from the collapsed dam washed downstream, posing a “genuine threat” to local residents, according to authorities.
The Russia-controlled Nova Kakhovka dam collapsed on June 6, destroying villages, flooding farmland and cutting off power as well as clean water supplies to tens of thousands of people, reports CNN.
At least 45 people have died since the breach and it remains unclear if the dam was deliberately targeted or whether structural failure caused it to collapse.
While floodwaters are receding, debris have washed down the Dnipro river — which flows into the Black Sea — turning Odesa’s coastline into “a garbage dump and animal cemetery”, the region’s municipality said in a social media post on Sunday.
“The beaches of Odesa have been declared unsuitable for swimming due to a significant aggravation in the condition of water in open water areas (sea, estuary) and a genuine threat to the health of the city residents,” CNN quoted the municipality as saying.
Authorities first raised the alarm about the declining water quality on Saturday, saying that lab tests had “identified infectious agents over the past week”.
Traces of salmonella, worm’s eggs and worm’s larvae were all found in the water which also “significantly” exceeded permitted levels of E. Coli.
“The presence of all of these biological pathogens in the water of open water areas in Odesa region, including the Black Sea, the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi Estuary, and the Danube River, constitutes a genuine threat to the life and health of the population,” the municipality added.
Authorities announced that Odesa residents were also prohibited from selling fish and seafood “unidentified places of fishing” near markets and shopping centres.
Meanwhile, the Internal Affairs Ministry in its latest update over the weekend said that 3,614 people had been evacuated from the flooded areas “including 474 children and 80 people with reduced mobility”.
Some 31 people also remain missing since the collapse, it added.