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“We are outraged by credible reports that the Russian military is currently holding hostages of Chernobyl workers,” Psaki said. reports the British BBC.
“This illegal and dangerous hostage-taking, which could curtail the usual civil service efforts needed to maintain and protect nuclear waste facilities, is clearly causing incredible alarm and serious concern,” Psaki continued.
“We condemn this and ask for their release.”
It was not immediately clear how many people were being held captive.
Psaki’s comments came after the adviser of the Land Forces of Ukraine Alena Shevtsova wrote on Facebook that Chernobyl employees are in captivity. This was reported by the Times of Israel.
Earlier on Thursday, adviser to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukraine had lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where in 1986 the world’s largest nuclear disaster occurred.
“After the absolutely senseless offensive of the Russians in this direction, it cannot be said that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe,” he said.
A Ukrainian official said that the Russian shelling affected the radioactive waste storage facility and that an increase in radiation levels had been reported, according to the Associated Press. Experts could not immediately access the facility to assess the damage before Russian forces overtook the facility, the report said.
In a tweet posted on Thursday, Ukraine’s foreign minister warned that the 1986 disaster could happen to a site now controlled by the Russians.
“In 1986, the world’s largest technological disaster occurred in Chernobyl,” – said in a statement on Twitter. “Russia’s attack on Ukraine could cause another environmental catastrophe by moving its military forces to Chernobyl. If Russia continues the war, Chernobyl could happen again in 2022.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.