The Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine has collapsed, destroying villages, crops, and supply lines, while Ukrainian and Russian officials accused each other of the deliberate act.

Civilians have been evading the flooded streets, carrying their children, dogs, and belongings while rescuers on rubber boats are searching in the areas with high water levels.

Both Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for destroying the Nova Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power station, built on the Dnieper River, reported Reuters.

Ukraine accused Russian forces of blowing up the dam by detonating explosives from within, as the dam was under their control for more than a year.

Moscow blamed Ukrainian bombardment in the area, where the river separates the two sides, to distract attention from a new counter-offensive.

It is not immediately clear which side might have destroyed the dam, or it might have collapsed due to gradual degradation, said New York Times.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the media: “Russia must bear criminal responsibility for the ecocide provoked by blowing up the structures of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.

“Last year, Ukrainian intelligence reported on the mining of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam by the Russian occupiers and the risks related to these actions.

“It is very important that we were aware of these risks in advance. It is very important that the teams based at the SES and local teams were prepared.”

According to the New York Times, a deliberate explosion inside the Kakhovka dam most likely caused its collapse, including structural failure or a possible attack from outside the dam.

Though the available evidence is very limited, the experts suggest that an internal explosion is the most probable explanation for the destruction of the dam.

Nova Kakhovka facility is a massive structure of steel-reinforced concrete, and a blast in an enclosed space, would require hundreds of pounds of explosives to breach the dam.

An external detonation would exert only a fraction of its force against the dam and would require explosives many times larger to achieve a similar effect, said the publication.

Both Russian and Ukrainian authorities deployed trains and buses to transfer about 25,000 residents in Russian-controlled areas and 17,000 in Ukrainian territory, to safety.