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Strikes at Ukraine nuclear plant lead UN chief to call for demilitarised zone

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Russia and Ukraine accused each other of shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant when the UN chief proposed a demilitarized zone at the site for fear of catastrophe. Follow our live updates for all the latest developments in the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

06:56 a.m.: UN warns for nuclear power plant

Ukraine’s Energoatom agency said the Zaporizhzhia complex was hit five times on Thursday, including near where radioactive materials are stored. Russia-appointed officials said Ukraine shelled the factory twice, disrupting a shift shift, Russia’s TASS news agency said.

The UN Security Council met on Thursday to discuss the situation. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both sides to end all fighting near the factory.

“The facility should not be used as part of a military operation. Instead, an urgent technical-level agreement is needed on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the security of the area,” Guterres said in a statement.

5:45 a.m.: UN Security Council raises alarm over situation at Ukraine nuclear power plant

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog tells the Security Council that fighting near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has sparked a “serious crisis” after Kiev and Moscow again accuse each other of shelling near the site.

“This is a serious hour, a serious hour and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) must be able to complete its mission to Zaporizhzhya as soon as possible,” said Rafael Grossi.

Both Russians and Ukrainians say radiation levels in the factory were normal.

Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom says the latest attacks were close to one of the plant’s six reactors and radiation sensors were damaged.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging the international community to “respond immediately” to force Moscow’s troops out of the factory, denouncing “Russian nuclear blackmail” in his daily address to the nation.

The United States supports calls from the United Nations and others to establish a demilitarized zone around the factory.

The tensions have evoked memories of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine, which killed hundreds and spread radioactive contamination across much of Europe.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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