Powerful explosions shook the area of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Saturday evening and Sunday morning, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The statement described the explosions as “abruptly ending a period of relative calm at the facility and further underlining the urgent need for measures to help prevent a nuclear accident there.”
IAEA experts at the plant reported that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time Sunday morning local time, “in what appeared to be renewed shelling both close to and at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” IAEA said.
The IAEA team could also see some of the explosions from their windows, the agency said.
“The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing. Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable. Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire,” Rafael Grossi, IAEA director general, said in the statement.
Based on information provided by the plant management, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems and equipment at the plant’s site, “but none of them so far critical for nuclear safety and security,” IAEA said.
There are no reports of casualties and IAEA experts are in “close contact” with the site management about the situation on the ground, IAEA said.
Grossi “renewed his urgent appeal to both sides in the conflict to agree and implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible,” according to the statement, which adds that Grossi in recent months “has engaged in intense consultations with Ukraine and Russia about establishing such a zone, but so far without an agreement.”
“I’m not giving up until this zone has become a reality. As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever,” Grossi said in the statement.