Kyiv: Ukrainian officials Friday claimed that the fire at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which erupted after Russian troops shelled the complex, has been extinguished and the fighting in the area also stopped.
Dmytro Orlov, the Mayor of Energodar city which is about 120 km from Zaporizhzhya, told a local broadcaster that the fighting has stopped near the plant site after several hours of “continuous enemy shelling of (the plant’s) buildings and units”, the BBC reported.
In a statement, the country’s State Emergency Services said that at about 6.20 a.m., the fire in the training building was extinguished, adding that “there are no victims”.
According to the Services, the fire was reported on the third, fourth and fifth floor of the building.
Following initial hindrance from Russian troops, the fire responders finally entered the affected area at about 5.20 a.m.
Shortly after the fire broke out at the largest nuclear plant in Europe, President Volodymyr Zelensky urged leaders across the continent to “wake up” and take “immediate action” against Russia.
In a video posted on Twitter, the President said that “the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe is on fire right now” and accused Russian troops of deliberately shooting at the plant’s six reactors using tanks equipped with thermal imaging, reports the BBC.
Invoking the “global catastrophe” at Chernobyl in 1986, he warned the consequences of a meltdown at Zaporizhzhia would be far worse.
Earlier on Friday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had warned that if the nuclear plant blew up as a result of the fire then the catastrophe would be “10 times larger” than the Chernobyl disaster.
Friday’s development, which comes on the ninth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has received widespread condemnation.
During a phone call with Zelensky, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the “reckless actions of President (Vladimir) Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe”, reports the BBC.
Johnson said that the UK would “do everything it could to ensure the situation did not deteriorate further”, adding that he was also seeking an emergency UN Security Council meeting and his country would raise the issue immediately with Russia and close partners.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm called the incident “reckless” and announced her decision to activate the country’s Nuclear Incident Response Team.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the “unacceptable attacks by Russia must cease immediately”.
Ukraine currently has four active nuclear plants, including Zaporizhzhia which reportedly accounts for some 25 per cent of the country’s power, the BBC reported.
It also deals with nuclear waste at sites like Chernobyl, which is now under Russian control.