IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

38 dead, 9 pulled out alive from shelled apartment building in eastern Ukraine

The death toll hammers home the human cost of the invasion, now in its fifth month, as President Vladimir Putin’s forces push to capture all of Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region.
Get more newsLiveon

Rescuers continued shifting through the rubble Tuesday after officials said a Russian missile strike destroyed an apartment block in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 38 people.

The civilian deaths hammered home the human cost of Russia’s invasion, now in its fifth month, as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces push to capture all of Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region after declaring victory in one of its two provinces this month.

In the city of Chasiv Yar, rescue workers said Monday they made voice contact with two people in the wreckage of the five-storey building demolished over the weekend. Video showed them pulling survivors from the debris, where officials said up to two dozen people had been trapped.

But the death toll has been steadily rising, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said, as more bodies were pulled from under ruined concrete. It said Tuesday at least 38 people, including a child, have been found dead and 9 have been pulled out alive from the rubble.

One survivor, who gave her name as Venera, said she had wanted to save her two kittens.

“I was thrown into the bathroom, it was all chaos, I was in shock, all covered in blood,” she said, crying. “By the time I left the bathroom, the room was full up of rubble, three floors fell down.

“I never found the kittens.”

Rescuers could be seen lifting one person from the ruins to a stretcher, and carrying away two bodies in white bags on Monday.

Image: Chasiv Yar
Rescuers look through debris in Chasiv Yar on Monday.Metin Aktas / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Military experts say Russia is using barrages like the one on Chasiv Yar in Donetsk province to pave the way for a renewed push for territory by ground forces, after claiming victory in Luhansk province on July 4. Both have been partly controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Putin, who says he aims to hand control of Donbas to the separatists, on Monday eased rules for Ukrainians to acquire Russian citizenship. 

“(Russia) indeed unfortunately has a big advantage in artillery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters in Kyiv on Monday alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

“With all the partners who are ready to give support, I talk about artillery. There is indeed not enough.”

A spokesman for Ukraine’s International Legion, a fighting unit of foreign troops, said Ukraine’s heavy artillery was outnumbered roughly eight to one by Russian guns. 

Reuters could not independently verify battlefield accounts.

Further north in the second-largest city of Kharkiv, Russian artillery, rocket and tank attacks killed three and injured 31, including two children, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said.

Kharkiv, in the northeast close to the Russian border but outside the Donbas, suffered heavy bombardment in the first few months of the war followed by a period of relative calm that has been shattered by renewed shelling in recent weeks.

Moscow denies targeting civilians but many Ukrainian cities, towns and villages have been left in ruins. Since the Feb. 24 invasion, attacks on a theatre, shopping centre and railway station have caused many civilian deaths.