Radiation levels at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine have hit "very, very dangerous" levels amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi told reporters that the former nuclear power station has reached "abnormal" radiation levels after weeks of fighting at the scene, the Mirror reports.
Chernobyl was the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history on April 26, 1986 and has since been used to contain nuclear waste.
"The radiation level, I would say, is abnormal," Grossi said as the United Nations commemorated the 36th anniversary of the disaster, which stemmed from a flawed reactor design operated by improperly trained personnel. "There have been some moments when the levels have gone up because of the movement of the heavy equipment that Russian forces were bringing here and when they left.
"We are following that day by day."
Earlier this month, Ukraine officials accused Russian troops of taking radioactive "souvenirs" from its Chernobyl nuclear site.
Ukraine's state nuclear company shared a Facebook post accusing the Russian troops of taking equal to "700 kg of radioactive waste with the presence of beta and gamma radiation," the New York Daily News reported.
The information became available after Russia abandoned the facility amid changes made in late March after previously capturing the nuclear site early in its ongoing invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
“As a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, the SSE Ecocenter was looted, and the server facilities involved in the maintenance and processing of this information were taken away by the occupiers,” the post stated via the New York Daily News.
A pair of offices and garages were reportedly plundered during the alleged incident, which included computers and multiple pieces of equipment -- some of which may be toxic -- being taken.
“Even a small portion of this activity is deadly dangerous when unprofessional and uncontrollable behavior with it,” Ukraine energy workers wrote. “Currently the location of the stolen sources is unknown.”
Officials said it's possible that some of the items taken from the Chernobyl facility could have been abandoned by the Russian troops as they attempted to flee the scene, though added that it's more likely that, “Sources of radiation and fuel parts were taken out ‘(as) souvenirs.’”
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country would conduct military operations in Eastern Ukraine during an NBC News translation of a speech addressing the Russian population in Moscow on February 24.
The announcement appeared to serve as the final action ahead of an attack by Putin and the Russian military, which the U.S. and European allies to the neighboring Ukraine have attempted to prevent from taking place through diplomatic discussions.
A Ukraine interior minister confirmed to NBC News via text message that "cruise and ballistic missile strikes" were already underway shortly after Putin's announcement.
NBC News correspondent Erin McLaughlin said explosions could be heard from her live shot in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city, at 6:00 a.m. local time.
More than 1,000 protesters were reportedly arrested during anti-war protests throughout Russia amid President Putin's announcement to conduct military operations and ensuing attack on Ukraine, BNO News reported.