Strikes near Zaporizhzhia nuclear site to be 'avoided at all costs': IAEA head
- Parts of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was damaged Friday due to shelling
- Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the plant
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Moscow for the attack
The shelling on Friday damaged parts of the compound, reigniting fears of a potential disaster.
“I’m extremely concerned by the shelling yesterday at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement.
Grossi said Ukraine had reported no damage to the reactors and no radiological release. However, military action was “unacceptable” and had to be “avoided at all costs.”
Ukrainian officials and international experts have been warning for months of the risk that fighting poses to the plant, the biggest of its kind in Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Moscow for the attack, saying that the strikes a "brazen crime" and an "act of terror."
"Today, the occupiers created another extremely risky situation for everyone in Europe," he said in his nightly address on Friday.
The Russian defense ministry denied the accusation, saying the Ukrainians had carried out three artillery strikes on the plant and surrounding area.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's state-run nuclear power operator, Energoatom, accused Russian forces of hitting Zaporizhzhia plant.
Ukrainian prosecutors have opened an investigation into the incident. The exact danger posed by the blasts in and around the nuclear plant remains unclear.
"The possible consequences of hitting an operating reactor are equivalent to the use of an atomic bomb," Ukraine's foreign ministry said Friday on Twitter.
The United Kingdom also reacted saying: "Russian forces have probably used the wider facility area, in particular the adjacent city of Enerhodar, to rest their forces, utilizing the protected status of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk to their equipment and personnel from overnight Ukrainian attacks."