Chernobyl hostages captured by Russian forces survived on ‘one meal a day’ – World News

Russian forces on Friday seized Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia and Chernobyl nuclear power plants and have now placed employees operating the plant under their command, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

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Ukraine: Russian troops seize Chernobyl and take employees hostage

Nuclear plant workers held hostage by Russian forces are said to be surviving on just two hours of sleep and one meal a day while trying to keep the plants running.

Russian forces on Friday seized Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and have now placed employees operating the plant under their command, according to the UN nuclear regulator.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was “extremely concerned” about developments at Zaporizhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Officials are scrambling to contact the hostages after Russian forces blocked key communications channels.

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Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant on Friday

“Ukraine reports that any action by plant management – including actions related to the technical operation of the six reactor units – requires the prior approval of the Russian commander,” the IAEA said in a statement.

“In a second serious development, Ukraine has reported that Russian forces at the site have shut down some cellular networks and the internet, preventing reliable information from being obtained from the site through normal communication channels,” she added.

Russian forces also seized the spent fuel and radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl on February 24, next to the now-defunct power plant.

More than 200 people at the site, including technical personnel and guards, have not left since the day before the invasion.

The UN agency has called for technical staff to be relieved for safety reasons, but the Ukrainian regulator at Chernobyl is having “problems communicating with staff,” the IAEA said, adding that communication was only possible via email.

Chernobyl workers are said to be “starving, exhausted and depressed” as they survive on just one meal of oatmeal a day and two hours of sleep, the reports Daily Mail.

A Russian T-72 tank sits in front of Chernobyl’s main reactor

A source told the publication: “Without a place to sleep and no blankets, many only sleep for two to four hours on desks or wherever they can find space.

“They are out of food and only need one meal of porridge a day. They are fed once every 24 hours, if there is enough they might get extra bread.”

The site is normally run by 500 employees, with the hostages being forced to work around the clock to protect the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces took control of Zaporizhia – which houses six reactors – on Friday after setting fire to the neighboring training facility.

The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Ukrainian saboteurs for the attack, calling it a “monstrous provocation”.

The fire was extinguished and there was no damage to the reactors or release of radioactive material, but the incident raised concerns about the potentially catastrophic consequences should the conflict damage any of the country’s four operating nuclear power plants.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said: “In order for the facility to operate safely and reliably, management and personnel must be able to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure.”

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