12 explosions heard in Kiev as Russian assault intensifies; 48 flights bring 10,000 Indians home from Ukraine

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A fire broke out at a training building outside a nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia in the early hours of Friday after a bombardment by Russian forces, Ukrainian authorities said.

After burning for at least four hours amid reports that Russian troops blocked emergency crews from attending the blaze, Ukrainian emergency services confirmed the blaze was extinguished at 6 a.m. 20 local time.

The power plant has now reportedly been seized by Russian military forces, according to regional authorities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said earlier that it had put its incident and emergency center into “24/7 full response mode” due to the “serious situation” unfolding in Zaporizhzhia.

However, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm reassured the reactors of the Zaporizhzhia power plant, saying that there were no high radiation readings near the facility and that the reactors of the plant are “protected by robust containment structures and that the reactors are safely shut down”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed again for help from Europe after the attack on the nuclear power plant. He said: We warn everyone that no country has ever bombed nuclear power plants. For the first time in the history of mankind, the terrorist state is committing nuclear terrorism.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stontenberg has said Russia’s attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – underscore the “recklessness” of Vladimir Putin’s war.

Forty-seven people were killed in Russian airstrikes on a residential area in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Thursday, regional authorities said.
Russia’s communications watchdog has restricted access to the websites of several foreign news outlets, including the BBC and Deutsche Welle, for spreading what it called ‘false news’, amid friction over reporting on Ukraine.

Russian forces continue to control local and regional government buildings in the strategically important Black Sea port of Kherson, local authorities said. Russian forces appeared to want to cut Ukraine off from the sea via its main southern ports, claiming the capture of Kherson and tightening the siege of Mariupol.

Concern is growing over the movements of a huge column of Russian military vehicles outside Kiev. While a US defense official suggested it appeared to have “stalled”, there was also speculation that around 15,000 troops attached to it may be hunkering down and waiting for logistical supplies ahead of an assault on Kiev.

Vladimir Putin “is at risk” of ending up in prison for war crimes committed by his Russian forces in Ukraine, the British justice secretary said on Friday.
Russia’s parliament has passed a law making it a criminal offense to spread “false” information about its armed forces.

(With contributions from the BBC)


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