A senior official with the Biden Administration revealed that US spy satellites detected an explosion just before the Kakhovka dam collapsed but analysts are still not certain who caused it or how it happened, the New York Times reported.
The Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine collapsed last Tuesday, flooding villages and forcing residents to flee.
Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of destroying the dam, which Ukraine President Zelensky described as Europe’s worst “man-made environmental disaster in decades.”
The administration official told the New York Times that satellites with infrared sensors picked up a heat signature consistent with an explosion just before the collapse.
US intel analysts suspect that Russia is the likely culprit, the official said. However, he added that the intelligence community still does not have solid evidence.
Additionally, the NORSAR observatory in Norway picked up seismic data at the time the dam collapsed, supporting the theory that there had been an explosion near the dam.
While the administration official did not rule out the possibility that increased water pressure or prior damage may have contributed to the collapse of the dam, US officials believe that a deliberate or accidental explosion was likely the trigger.
Munitions and engineering experts said earlier last week that the most likely cause of the collapse was a deliberate explosion within the Russian-controlled dam, according to the New York Times.
The experts cautioned that the evidence available is very limited. But based on what is known, a blast in an enclosed space would do the most damage, with all of the energy from the blast being applied against the structure. But with this kind of blast, hundreds of pounds of explosives would be required to cause the dam to collapse, the experts said.
Detonating the dam externally through a missile or bomb would only exert a fraction of the force against the dam, requiring an explosive much larger to achieve the same effect, according to the experts.
Meanwhile, Russia has offered several explanations for the dam’s collapse, including accusing Kyiv of sabotage. However, Moscow has not provided any evidence of such sabotage, nor has it explained how Ukraine could have gained access to a dam that is under Russian control.