At least 70,000 people have left their homes in Ukraine’s southern Kherson province in the space of a week, a Moscow-installed official in the region said Wednesday, Oct 26.

“I’m sure that more than 70,000 people left in a week since the crossings were organised,” Vladimir Saldo told a regional TV channel, referring to efforts by the region’s pro-Kremlin authorities to move residents to the Russian-controlled areas on the left bank of the Dnipro river.

He added that this number may be larger as people could have used their own boats to cross the river instead of organised ferries.

Residents were urged to leave areas of the right bank, including the region’s main city Kherson, as Moscow troops face an advancing counteroffensive from Ukraine’s forces.

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Kyiv has compared this movement of people to “deportations”.

Also on Wednesday, Saldo banned entry to the right bank area of the region for a period of seven days “due to the tense situation on the contact line”, according to a statement on his social media.

He also claimed there was an “immediate danger of flooding” and “mass destruction of civilian infrastructure”, saying Kyiv was preparing a strike on the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro river.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of planning to blow up the facility — crucial for the water supply of Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula — to trigger a devastating flood.

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