A fire has broken out at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant after the Russian army targeted it “from all sides” in the Ukrainian city of Energodar.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged troops to immediately stop shooting at Zaporizhzhia power station so firefighters can take action.
Officials have said there is a “real threat of nuclear danger”, with Mr Kuleba warning: “If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl.”
A video on the plant’s YouTube channel appears to show large explosions at the power station.
Plant spokesman Andriy Tuz claimed one of the facility’s six reactors was on fire – and it has nuclear fuel inside. However, Ukraine’s state emergency service said the blaze had broken out at a training building outside the site’s perimeter.
A government official has told the Associated Press news agency that elevated levels of radiation have been detected close to the plant, which generates about 25% of Ukraine’s power.
But the International Atomic Energy Agency says it has been told by local officials that no change has been reported in radiation levels at the site.
Sky correspondent Greg Milam said: “Experts themselves say the reactors themselves should be able to withstand most things in terms of aircraft hitting it, they are designed to withstand an awful lot of impact.
“But the fuel that is there is the real concern and the idea of a leak of any radiation is a real concern.”
• The UN atomic watchdog agency has expressed grave concern that fighting could cause accidental damage to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors
• There has been fierce fighting between local forces and Russian troops on the outskirts of Energodar – with casualties reported
• Ukrainian and Russian troops are continuing to battle for control of key cities including Kherson and Mariupol in the south as the war enters its second week
• Russia has agreed to the need for “humanitarian corridors” in Ukraine for the evacuation of civilians and arrival of aid, but there’s no immediate sign of a ceasefire despite a second round of peace talks
UK and US receive update from Ukraine’s president
Boris Johnson spoke with Volodymyr Zelenskyy after news broke about the fire – with a Downing Street spokeswoman describing the situation as “gravely concerning”.
She added: “Both leaders agreed that Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant.
“The prime minister said the reckless actions of President Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe. He said the UK would do everything it could to ensure the situation did not deteriorate further.”
Mr Johnson plants to seek an emergency UN Security Council meeting within hours – and No 10 said the UK “would raise this issue immediately” with Moscow.
Ukraine’s president has also spoken to his American counterpart early this morning – with Joe Biden receiving a separate update from the US Energy Department’s under secretary for nuclear security.
Biggest attack on European state since World War Two enters ninth day
On Thursday, footage from Energodar showed flames and black smoke rising above the city, which had a population of 50,000 before the war began.
Energoatom, the company that operates Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, had warned: “Many young men in athletic clothes and armed with Kalashnikovs have come into the city. They are breaking down doors and trying to get into the apartments of local residents.”
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has called on the West to close the skies over the country’s nuclear plants as fighting intensifies – warning in a statement that “the security of the whole world is at stake”.
But the US and NATO allies have ruled out establishing a no-fly zone because such a move would pit Russian and Western military forces against each other.
Russia has already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant that lies about 62 miles (100km) north of Kyiv – the site of the 1986 accident that is considered to be the worst nuclear disaster in history.
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