Around 70,000 people have escaped their homes in the southern province of Kherson in Ukraine in the period of a week, a Moscow-installed official in the area said on Wednesday.
While referring to efforts by the pro-Kremlin authorities of the region to move residents to the Russian-controlled areas of the left bank of the Dnipro river, Vladimir Saldo said to a regional news media that, “I am sure that over 70,000 people left in a week from the time since the crossings were organised.”
He further added that the approximate digit might be larger as people could have used their own vessels to cross the river instead of organised ferries.
Residents were urged to escape areas of the right bank, including the region’s key city Kherson, as the Moscow army face an advancing counteroffensive from the forces of Ukraine.
Moscow has compared this movement of people to “deportations.”
As per the statement on his social media handle, on Wednesday, Saldo restricted the entry to the right bank area for the region for a time period of seven days “because of the tense situation on the contact line.”
He also made a claim that there was an “immediate threat of flooding” & “mass destruction of civilian infrastructure”, stating the capital city of Kyiv was preparing a strike on the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro river.
At the same time, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has blamed Russia of planning to blow up the facility, important for the water supply of the Russia-annexed Crimean peninsula, to target devastating floods.