A four-kilometer-wide stretch of water separates Nikopol from the reactor towers of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, six menacing cubes that dominate the panorama overlooked by practically every balcony of the town on the banks of the Dnipro. Under the cooling towers, which stand on the other side of the river, it is now another world from which there has been no news for months: “There it is now all occupied by the Russians”explains Natalia Borisovna, spokesperson for the city administration, “we no longer have contact with those who live there, the only information is given to us by our partisans who, across the river, resist the Russians in hiding”.
Missiles rain down on Nikopol and the neighboring villages every night, over 40 between Saturday and Sunday, almost half of which hit apartment buildings in the area close to the river bank. “We know that the shots are fired from positions on the other side of the river, at night we see the trails starting from behind the power plant, I don’t know if they come from in there or from nearby, but little changes”continues the woman. In the afternoon, when the air is clearer from the plant, a few columns of smoke are also seen rising and the rumble of various explosions can be heard. Powerless, people look with terror on the Telegram groups at the photos of the damage to the buildings of the plant leaking from the cell phones of the workers who continue to keep the structure switched on in forced shifts.
The secretary of the city council Ivan Bazylyuk goes around the houses finished under artillery fire and marks the details on a notebook where he notes the extent of the damage on the buildings and the families who live in them, marks the number of all those who have decided to leave the city “knowing that the enemy is so close is something that consumes the nerves, at times it almost seems to see them move to the other side. This thing about the power plant then risks throwing everyone into panic, someone gives up their nerves and decides to go west”, explains Bazylyuk. According to the figures of the military administration, about 45% of the one hundred thousand inhabitants have left the city, and even the conscripted men have been stolen, to scan the horizon in Nikopol there are about 30,000 people, mainly the elderly and children, with bated breath and fear of radiation.
The bombing on Saturday also broke through the roof of the house of a 94-year-old lady and in the afternoon the children rushed to try to arrange at least one room for her to sleep indoors. In the middle of the garden, an old rusty metal sheet emerges which leads 5 meters underground to a radiation shelter that is at least as old as the plant, protected by concrete blocks over three meters thick. Whenever it rains fire from heaven, the children take their mother to the “canning room”where by candlelight the lady reviews her pickles waiting for the antiaircraft sirens to stop.
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