A soldier wearing a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, Ukraine.
The town of Nikopol, located on the opposite bank of the Dnieper to Europe's largest nuclear power plant, was targeted by rocket and heavy artillery fire, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.
Reports of nearby shelling, which could not be independently verified, have caused international alarm.
The day before, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, warned the UN Security Council that something very, very catastrophic could happen in Zaporizhia and asked the Russia and Ukraine to create a security zone around the plant.
Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and his team spoke about their concerns following their visit to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant upon arrival at the airport in Vienna, Austria. /p>
Fighting is feared to trigger a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl in 1986. The plant was built in Soviet times and is the ;one of the ten largest in the world.
The inspection agency responsible for nuclear safety in Ukraine also warned on Wednesday that an accident in Zaporizhia would have consequences beyond the country's borders.
According to its acting chief, Oleg Korikov, the plant is currently disconnected from the electricity grid and risks being in a situation where its security systems will be powered by reserve powers running on diesel.
“But in times of war, it is very difficult to replenish the diesel reserves. We can potentially find ourselves faced with a lack of diesel, which can lead to an accident damaging the reactor core and consequently, the release of radioactive products into the environment.
— Oleg Korikov, Ukraine Nuclear Safety Inspection Agency
There is a high risk of a serious accident, Karine Herviou, director general of the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety, confirmed to AFP.
The main risk is the loss of the power supply to the reactors, which could lead to their cooling being stopped and followed by a meltdown of the reactor core, he said. she warned.
Neither Moscow nor Kyiv officials immediately committed to the safe zone idea, saying more details on the proposal were needed.
The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, even demanded clarification from the IAEA on this report, and Mr. Putin denied the agency's assertions about the presence of military equipment on the site.
The head of the Ukrainian public operator Energoatom, Petro Kotin, meanwhile said he was in favor of sending UN peacekeepers in Zaporizhia. Deploying the peacekeeping contingent and taking out the Russian military can be one of the ways to create the safety zone at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
Russian troops took over in early March control of the plant with six nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1000 megawatts each, which produced 20% of Ukrainian electricity before the Russian invasion.
His site is subject to bombardments for which kyiv and Moscow reject responsibility.
With information from Agence France-Presse