Seventeen killed in Ukraine's Chernihiv in Russia's deadliest air strike in weeks


  • World
  • Wednesday, 17 Apr 2024

Rescuers work at the site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine April 17, 2024. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS

CHERNIHIV, Ukraine (Reuters) -Three Russian missiles slammed into the city centre of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, wounding dozens more and damaging civilian buildings, officials said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Kyiv's allies to rush in air defence support after the city, which had a pre-war population of 300,000, became the latest target of an intensifying Russian air strike campaign.

"This would not have happened if Ukraine had received sufficient air defence equipment and if the world's determination to counter Russian terror had been sufficient," Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Videos obtained by Reuters showed flames and columns of black smoke rising over Chernihiv, which is about 150 km (95 miles) from the capital Kyiv and about 80 km (50 miles) from the Russian border.

Three explosions ripped through a busy central area of the city just after 9 a.m. local time (0600 GMT), destroying a hotel, officials said.

The strike also damaged several multi-storey residential buildings, a hospital, an education facility and dozens of private cars, officials said.

"Unfortunately, Russia continues to engage in terrorist activity against civilians and civilian infrastructure as confirmed by this strike on Chernihiv once again," acting mayor Oleksandr Lomako said on national television.

Sixty people, including three children, were wounded, the emergency services said.

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, attacked with three Iskander cruise missiles, governor Vyacheslav Chaus told the Suspilne public broadcaster.

SHELTERING IN BASEMENTS

"I haven't come to my senses fully yet and I don't understand everything that happened. The main thing for me is that my child in school was in a basement (shelter)," local resident Iryna, 35, told Reuters.

"The school is nearby and I was most worried for them to have enough time to go down."

Schools are equipped with shelters in basements for children and teachers to take cover there.

As civilians cleared up glass and debris with shovels near residential houses, local doctors urged residents to donate blood and city officials declared a day of mourning.

Ukraine is facing an acute shortage of ammunition, including air defence systems and missiles, with vital funding from the U.S. blocked by Republicans in Congress for months and the EU failing to deliver munitions on time.

Russia has taken advantage of these delays in recent weeks, intensifying its attacks on Ukrainian cities and targeting the energy sector and other critical infrastructure.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba voiced gratitude to Germany for providing an additional, third Patriot air defence battery, urging the country's other allies to follow suit.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and has launched thousands of missiles and drones against Ukrainian cities, towns and villages in attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians.

(Additional reporting by Anastasiia Malenko; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Gareth Jones)

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