Europe’s largest nuclear power station is on fire after Russian troops began to shell it early Friday, according to the mayor of a nearby industrial city.
Mayor Dmytro Orlov of Energodar had said earlier that a column of soldiers could be seen heading toward Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to Reuters. He reported that Ukrainian forces were fighting with the Russians on the outskirts of the city, saying that “loud shots” could be heard.
A plant official confirmed in a video posted to Telegram that the Russians had begun shelling the station.
“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” spokesperson Andriy Tuz said in the video, according to the Associated Press. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”
In a frantic Twitter statement, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba affirmed that Russian troops were firing “from all sides” at the plant, and that flames had “already broken out.”
“If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl!” he wrote, referring to the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. “Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!”
Shortly after the invasion began last Thursday, Russian forces captured the defunct Chernobyl plant, north of capital city Kyiv.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated shortly.