At least three killed as storm hits Russia, Ukraine’s Black Sea coast

Hundreds of thousands of people without power as fierce storm devastates infrastructure.

Russia's national meteorological service said the storm that hit Crimea was the most powerful since recordkeeping began, according to state news agency RIA Novosti [Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters]

More than half a million people are without power in occupied-Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after a storm in the Black Sea region flooded roads, ripped up trees and took down power lines, according to Russian state media and Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy.

More than 2,000 towns and villages were without electricity on Sunday night and Monday morning in 16 Ukrainian regions, including Odesa, Mykolaiv and inland in Kyiv, as trees were uprooted, power lines snapped and electrical substations failed, leaving almost 150,000 households in the area without electricity, Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said.

A 110-metre (360ft) chimney of a heat and power plant collapsed in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Sunday night, adding to Ukraine’s losses of energy infrastructure that have already sustained heavy damage from Moscow’s military campaign targeting Ukraine’s power grid.

As winter nears, Russia has been attacking civilian infrastructure far from the front lines, leaving millions of Ukrainians without power, heat and water for days at a time.

Although the heating supply has been restored after plants in Odesa were shut down for several hours due to power fluctuations, Ukrainian officials said they expected the weather to worsen as forecasters predicted more strong winds and snowfall.

The head of Russia’s national meteorological service said the storm that hit Crimea was the most powerful since record-keeping began, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Odesa storm
Emergency workers rescue people trapped in the storm in Ukraine’s Odesa region. [Handout/Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Odesa region/Reuters]

Storm deaths

At least three people were killed during the storm, local media reported.

One person was killed in the resort city of Sochi, another on the Russian-held Crimean Peninsula and a third person on board a vessel in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from the Russian mainland, the state news agency TASS reported.

Russia’s Ministry of Energy said “about 1.9 million people” were affected by power cuts in the southern Russian regions of Dagestan, Krasnodar and Rostov as well as the occupied Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhia and Crimea.

Crimea’s Moscow-appointed governor declared a state of emergency, and hundreds of people were evacuated.

A video published online showed large waves sweeping over the seafront in Sochi and carrying away cars.

In the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, an aquarium flooded and nearly 800 exotic fish, including pikes and piranhas, died from thermal shock as cold seawater flooded the facility, the aquarium director said.

Roman Vilfand, the head of Russia’s national meteorological service, said a similar storm hit the region in November 1854 during the Crimean War. It caused at least 30 ships to sink off Crimea’s coast, RIA Novosti said.

In southern Russia, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium stopped crude oil loading at the Novorossiysk port on Monday due to “extremely unfavorable weather conditions”, including winds of up to 86 kilometres per hour (54 miles per hour) and waves up to 8 metres (26ft) high. In the port city of Anapa, a cargo ship ran aground.

Source: News Agencies