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Ukraines Nuclear Plant Disconnected From Power Line Amid Fighting

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine The top of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Saturday that the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine was disconnected to its last external power line but was still in a position to run electricity by way of a reserve line amid sustained shelling in your community.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the agencys experts, who attained Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, were told by senior Ukrainian staff that the fourth and last operational line was down. The three others were lost earlier through the conflict.

However the IAEA experts learned that the reserve line linking the facility to a nearby thermal power plant was delivering the electricity the plant generates to the external grid, the statement said. Exactly the same reserve line may also provide backup capacity to the plant if needed, it added.

We curently have a better knowledge of the functionality of the reserve power line in connecting the facility to the grid, Grossi said. That is crucial information in assessing the entire situation there.

Furthermore, the plants management informed the IAEA that certain reactor was disconnected Saturday afternoon due to grid restrictions. Another reactor continues to be operating and producing electricity both for cooling along with other essential safety functions at the website and for households, factories among others through the grid, the statement said.

The Zaporizhzhia facility, that is Europes largest nuclear plant, has been held by Russian forces since early March, but its Ukrainian staff are continuing to use it.

The Russian-appointed city administration in Enerhodar, where in fact the Zaporizhzhia plant is situated, blamed an alleged Ukrainian shelling attack on Saturday morning for destroying an integral power line.

The provision of electricity to the territories controlled by Ukraine has been suspended because of technical difficulties, the municipal administration said in a post on its official Telegram channel. It wasnt clear whether electricity from the plant was still reaching Russian-held areas.

Vladimir Rogov, an associate of the Kremlin-appointed regional administration said on Telegram a shell had struck a location between two reactors. His claims couldnt be immediately verified.

In the last weeks, Ukraine and Russia have traded blame over shelling at and close to the plant, while also accusing one another of attempts to derail the visit by IAEA experts, whose mission is intended to greatly help secure the website. Grossi said their presence at the website is really a game changer.

Russias Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian troops launched another try to seize the plant late Friday, regardless of the presence of the IAEA monitors, sending 42 boats with 250 special forces personnel and foreign mercenaries to try a landing on the lender of the nearby Kakhovka reservoir.

The ministry said that four Russian fighter jets and two helicopter gunships destroyed about 20 boats and others turned back. It added that the Russian artillery struck the Ukrainian-controlled right bank of the Dnieper River to focus on the retreating landing party.

The ministry claimed that the Russian military killed 47 troops, including 10 mercenaries and wounded 23. The Russian claims couldnt be independently verified.

The plant has repeatedly suffered complete disconnection from Ukraines power grid since the other day, with the countrys nuclear energy operator Enerhoatom blaming mortar shelling and fires close to the site.

Local Ukrainian authorities accused Moscow of pounding two cities that forget the plant over the Dnieper river with rockets, also an accusation they will have made repeatedly in the last weeks.

In Zorya, a little village about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Zaporizhzhia plant, residents on Friday could hear the sound of explosions in your community.

Its not the shelling that scared them probably the most, but the threat of a radioactive leak in the plant.

The energy plant, yes, this is actually the scariest, said Natalia Stokoz, a mother of three. As the kids and adults will undoubtedly be affected, and its own scary if the nuclear power plant is inflated.

Oleksandr Pasko, a 31-year-old farmer, said there’s anxiety because we have been quite close. Pasko said that the Russian shelling has intensified in recent weeks.

Through the first weeks of the war, authorities gave iodine tablets and masks to people living close to the plant in the event of radiation exposure.

Recently, theyve also distributed iodine pills in Zaporizhzhia city, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the plant.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to take the role of facilitator on the problem of the Zaporizhzhia plant, in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, in accordance with a statement from the Turkish presidency.

The Ukrainian military on Saturday morning reported that Russian forces overnight pressed their stalled advance in the countrys industrial east, while also attempting to retain areas captured in Ukraines northeast and south, including in the Kherson region cited because the target of Kyivs recent counteroffensive.

It added that Ukrainian forces repelled around a half-dozen Russian attacks over the Donetsk region, including near two cities designated as key targets of Moscows grinding effort to fully capture all of those other province. The Donetsk region is 1 of 2 that define Ukraines industrial heartland of the Donbas, alongside Luhansk, that was overrun by Russian troops in early July.

Separately, the British military confirmed in its regular update Saturday morning that Ukrainian forces were conducting renewed offensive operations in the south of Ukraine, advancing along an easy front west of the Dnieper and concentrating on three axes within the Russian-occupied Kherson region.

The operation has limited immediate objectives, but Ukraines forces have likely achieved a qualification of tactical surprise; exploiting poor logistics, administration and leadership in the Russian military, the U.K. defense ministry tweeted.

Russian shelling killed an 8-year-old child and wounded at the very least four others in a southern Ukrainian town near to the Kherson region, Ukrainian officials said.

E mail us at letters@time.com.

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