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Ukraine’s nuclear agency says no leaks were detected at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine after responders finally extinguished a fire that spiraled out of control overnight after being shelled by invading Russian forces.

Local officials said Russian forces opened fire on the facility as their column approached Zaporizhzhya, and the regional authority later confirmed that the Russians seized the plant.

The incident prompted the UN and international atomic authorities to adopt emergency postures, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said it would request an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation.

“Changes in the radiation situation have not been registered,” the Ukrainian Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRIU) said early on March 4.

Russian troops seized the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the first day of the assault, and the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said the increased radiation levels in the area at the time were the result of radioactive dust lifted by heavy military equipment.

Meanwhile, shelled residential buildings smoldered on the northern outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, and Russia’s escalating attack on southern cities continued as the ninth day of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia began on March 4.

The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, on the banks of a reservoir on the Dnieper River, is the largest in Europe and generates more than a fifth of Ukraine’s domestic electricity.

The UN nuclear agency said early on March 4 that it was putting its incident and emergency center into full response mode due to the situation.

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US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said late March 3 that there were no initial signs of elevated radiation levels at the plant.

The video showed a five-story building, apparently a training center, burning in Zaporizhzhya.

Zaporizhzhya Mayor Dmytro Orlov said Russian forces opened fire at a checkpoint a few kilometers from the nuclear plant and at civilians and shelling pounded the area for at least an hour. He said the town had no water supply and power outages.

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya regional administration later said that Russian troops had seized the power plant and that “operational personnel are monitoring the condition of the motor units”.

Kiev has confirmed that Russian forces have entered the compound.

A protocol to the Geneva Convention limits military attacks against nuclear facilities.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released a video address after the fire started, urging Europeans to “please wake up. Tell your politicians that Russian troops are firing on a nuclear power plant in Ukraine”.

Zelenskiy spoke with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to update them on the situation in Zaporizhzhya.

The White House said “President Biden has joined President Zelenskiy in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders access to the site.”

Johnson’s office said “the reckless actions of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin could now directly threaten the security of all of Europe.”

Granholm said on Twitter that she had spoken to Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko and that the Zaporizhzhya reactors were “protected by robust containment structures” and were “shut down safely”.

WATCH: Fires could still be seen smoldering in what was once a row of high-rise apartment buildings in Borodyanka on March 3. The small town northwest of Kiev came under Russian airstrikes and artillery shelling the day before.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi told a special meeting of his agency in Vienna on March 2 that the UN’s nuclear watchdog was working with “all parties” to explore how to ensure safety and how factories and their staff could be supported.

Elsewhere, residential buildings burned in the town of Chernihiv, outside Kyiv, early on March 4 after heavy shelling overnight that claimed casualties.

Intense Russian bombardment and encirclement efforts also continue in cities in southern Ukraine, where Russia is believed to have occupied its first major city, Kherson, and Russian forces are apparently seeking to take control of the strategic coast of the black Sea.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and more than a million Ukrainians have fled west amid a growing refugee crisis since Putin launched his all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

With reports from the Ukrainian service of RFE / RL and Reuters

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