The largest nuclear power station in Europe has been switched to standby in a Russia-Ukraine war emergency.

Fears have been sparked by the “nuclear safety situation” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which a top nuclear official has warned is “extremely vulnerable”.

Reports now claim the station has been reconnected, but officials have urged both sides to “protect” the plant.

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Zaporizhzhia has been at the centre of brutal fighting for much of Vladimir Putin’s “special operation,” but now Russian forces controlling the area are staring down the barrel of a much-anticipated counter-offensive from the defenders.

News of the disconnection of the massive plant was announced on Monday by Russia-installed local official Vladimir Rogov.

Rogov has been inserted by the Kremlin and claims that Ukraine has disconnected a power line.

He claimed Ukraine had left the power station completely disconnected from external power and that it was now using diesel generators.

Some reports however have suggested that the station was put out of action by shelling.

According to the New York Times, Russian artillery knocked out the plant’s power supply.

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The news comes after earlier reports that Russia had been storing explosives and artillery units in and around the power station.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s energy supply company said that the plant had suffered a power outage, adding it had the means to sustain its most critical functions for 10 days.

Writing on Telegram, the body said: “After the loss of external power, which is vitally necessary to ensure the operation of the pumps for cooling the nuclear material of the power units, all diesel generators of the nuclear power plant were switched on automatically”.

With six reactors, the plant has been under Russian control for much of the war and it has become a key source of interest along the current frontline.

Work to restore power to the city is ongoing as of early on Monday (May 22), according to Zaporizhzhia city council's secretary in Ukraine, Anatoliy Kurtev.

Writing on Telegram he said: "[Power supply] partially disappeared in Zaporizhzhia due to an emergency situation at one of the energy facilities."

Fears surrounding the outage remain high, however.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said that the plant “this morning lost all external electricity for 7th time during conflict, forcing it to rely on emergency diesel generators for power; nuclear safety situation at the plant extremely vulnerable.

“We must agree to protect plant now; this situation cannot continue.”

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