- At least 25 confirmed dead after Saturday’s Russian attack
- Mayor says little hope of finding more survivors
- The military says Russia has more cruise missiles on hand
DNIPRO, Ukraine, Jan. 15 (Reuters) – Ukraine saw little hope of pulling any more survivors from the rubble of an apartment building in the city of Dnipro on Sunday, a day after the building was hit in a major Russian missile strike, killing dozens of people who are expected to die.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said there was a child among the 25 deaths confirmed so far and 73 people were injured, including 13 children. Thirty-nine people had been rescued, but another 43 were missing, he said on the Telegram messaging app.
Aid workers said they heard people screaming for help under the rubble of the nine-story apartment building in the eastern central city and used moments of silence to help direct their efforts. Freezing temperatures added additional concerns to rescuers.
A group of firefighters found a lightly clad woman still alive more than 18 hours after the attack. They carried her safely in their arms. Dozens of grim-looking residents, both young and old, watched in horror from the street.
A body had been retrieved earlier by firefighters and lifted from the ruins by crane on a stretcher.
“The chances of saving people are minimal now,” Dnipro’s mayor Borys Filatov told Reuters. I think the death toll will run into the dozens.”
The Ukrainian Air Force said the apartment building was hit by a Russian Kh-22 missile, which is known to be inaccurate and Ukraine does not have the air defenses to shoot down. The Soviet-era missile was developed during the Cold War to destroy warships.
Filatov said two stairwells, including dozens of flats, were destroyed.
Russia fired two waves of missiles into Ukraine on Saturday, hitting targets across the country as fighting raged on the battlefield in the eastern cities of Soledar and Bakhmut.
Moscow, which invaded last February, has been bombarding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing massive blackouts and disruptions to central heating and running water.
In a statement on Sunday about the previous day of the strike, the Russian Defense Ministry did not name Dnipro as a specific target.
“All assigned objects have been hit. The targets of the attack have been achieved,” it said.
Rescue workers toiled through the night in search of survivors. On Sunday morning, they could be seen punching and kicking through heaped mounds of crushed concrete and twisted metal.
“Two rooms on the second floor are almost intact, but buried,” Oleh Kushniruk, a deputy director of the regional branch of Ukraine’s state emergency service, said on television.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s southern command said Russia had fired only half of the cruise missiles it deployed in Saturday’s attacks on the Black Sea.
“This indicates that they still have certain plans,” said spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk. “We need to understand that they can still be used.”
CALL FOR MORE WEAPONS
In his late night speech after the attack, Zelenskiy called on Western allies to provide more weapons to end “Russian terror” and attacks on civilian targets.
Saturday’s attack came as Western powers consider sending main battle tanks to Kiev and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Germany’s Ramstein this Friday where governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.
On Saturday, Britain followed France and Poland with promises of more weapons, saying it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks and other advanced artillery support in the coming weeks.
The first shipment of Western-made tanks to Ukraine is likely to be seen by Moscow as an escalation of the conflict. The Russian embassy in London said the tanks would drag the confrontation on.
The invasion of Russia has already killed thousands, displaced millions of people and left many cities in ruins.
In Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region – the focal point of Russia’s drive to seize more territory – Ukrainian troops battled around the small salt mining town of Soledar.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, told Ukrainian television that Russian forces had shelled the area around Soledar and Bakhmut 234 times in the past 24 hours.
Russia said on Friday its troops had taken control of Soledar, which had a pre-war population of 10,000, in what would be a small advance but one that would be of psychological significance to Russian troops, who have endured months of battlefield setbacks. experienced.
Ukraine insisted on Saturday that its forces were fighting to hold the city, but officials acknowledged the situation was difficult, with street fighting and Russian troops advancing from different directions.
“Our soldiers are constantly repelling enemy attacks day and night,” Deputy Defense Secretary Hanna Maliar said on Saturday. “The enemy suffers heavy casualties, but continues to carry out the criminal orders of their command.”
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said it was highly unlikely that Ukrainian troops still held positions within Soledar itself.
Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in the city.
Putin said what he calls the special military operation showed a positive trend and he hoped Russian soldiers would make even more gains after Soledar.
“The dynamics are positive,” he told Rossiya 1 state television. “Everything is developing within the framework of the Defense and General Staff plan.”
Additional Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Dan Peleschuk Written by Lidia Kelly, Dan Peleschuk, Raissa Kasolowsky, and Tom Balmforth Edited by William Mallard, Edwina Gibbs, Frances Kerry, Philippa Fletcher
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