Russian forces attacked Europe's largest nuclear plant on Friday, March 4, starting a fire at the Ukrainian facility, with the country's president accusing Moscow of "nuclear terror".
As per the local authorities, no immediate radiation rise was detected and the fire did not affect the "essential" equipment. However, it remained unclear what the invading troops planned next.
Russia has already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant, about 100 km north of Kyiv, which spewed radioactive waste over much of Europe when it melted down in 1986. Some analysts said that the Zaporizhzhia plant is a different and safer type, according to Reuters.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no indication of elevated radiation levels at the plant, which provides more than a fifth of total electricity generated in Ukraine.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to "repeat" the Chernobyl nuclear incident and said he had a chat with international leaders including the President of the United States Joe Biden regarding the crisis.
Biden urged Russia to allow emergency responders to go to the site.
Earlier, images on a live feed from the site showed blasts lighting up the night sky and sending up plumes of smoke, with the International Atomic Energy Agency urging to stop fighting there immediately.
Zelenskyy Appeals For Global Help
In a video message, Zelenskyy said that no country has ever fired on nuclear power units other than Russia. Terming Russia as a terrorist state, Zelenskyy has appealed for global aid.
"If there is an explosion, it is the end of everything. The end of Europe. This is the evacuation of Europe. Only immediate European action can stop Russian troops," he said in his message.
However, after several hours of uncertainty, Ukrainian authorities informed that the site had been protected and the fire has been extinguished.
Earlier, Energy Secretary Granholm said on Twitter the reactors at Zaporizhzhia were "protected by robust containment structures" and were being "safely shut down".
In a tweet, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that it was "aware of reports of shelling" at the power plant and was in contact with Ukrainian authorities.
Taking to his Facebook, Oleksandr Starukh, head of the military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region said that the director of the plant has guaranteed nuclear safety.
"According to those responsible for the plant, a training building and a laboratory were affected by the fire," he added.
Russia has intensified strikes across Ukraine eight days into the conflict, with new reports of loss of lives and devastating damage, particularly in southern areas near the first city to fall to Moscow's troops.
In the second round of talks held on March 3, Moscow agreed to the country's request for humanitarian corridors to allow residents to flee. Still, there was no immediate clarity on how they would work and no sign of any move towards a ceasefire.
Zelenskyy called for direct talks with Putin and said that it is the only way to stop the war. He also urged the West to step up military aid and provide them with planes.
Many nations have come out in support of Ukraine since Putin invaded the country on February 24, making Russia a global outcast in the worlds of culture, diplomacy, finance and sports.