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Death toll rises after Russian missile attack on eastern Ukraine's Kramatorsk

The police said at least 61 people were wounded in Tuesday’s missile strike

Reuters, New York TIimes News Service Kramatorsk Published 29.06.23, 06:13 AM
Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin File photo

The death toll rose to 11 on Wednesday from a Russian missile strike on a crowded restaurant in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kramatorsk the previous evening, with two more bodies including a fourth child pulled out of the wreckage.

The police said at least 61 people were wounded in Tuesday’s missile strike, which turned the restaurant into a pile of twisted beams.

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“As of now, rescuers have recovered the bodies of 10 people from the rubble,” Veronika Bakhal, spokeswoman for the Donetsk region emergency services, told Ukrainian television.

Eight people had been rescued alive from the rubble and at least three more were believed to be trapped, she said.

Kramatorsk mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko posted on the Telegram messaging app that the body of a boy had been pulled out. He did not give the boy’s age. The dead confirmed on Tuesday included two 14-year-old sisters and another girl, 17.

“I ran here after the explosion because I rented a cafe here... Everything has been blown out there,” said Valentyna, a 64-year-old woman who declined to give her surname.

“None of the glass, windows or doors are left. All I see is destruction, fear and horror. This is the 21st century,” she told Reuters.

During the overnight rescue, police and soldiers emerged with a man in military trousers and boots on a stretcher. He was placed in an ambulance, though it was unclear whether he was still alive. Two men screamed in frenzied tones for a tow rope, then ran back towards the rubble. A second missile hit a village on the fringes of Kramatorsk, wounding five.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video message on Tuesday that the attacks showed Russia “deserved only one thing as a consequence of what it has done — defeat and a tribunal”.

Russia has frequently hit Ukrainian cities since its full-scale invasion in February 2022. It denies intentionally targeting civilians.

Kramatorsk lies west of the front lines in Donetsk province and would be a likely objective in any westward advance by Russia.

The city has been a frequent target of Russian attacks. A missile strike killed 63 people at a railway station there in April 2022, one of the worst single air strikes of the war.

With search and rescue efforts ongoing, Ukraine’s intelligence agency, the SBU, said it had detained a man who allegedly helped direct the missile strike.

It accused the man — described as a Kramatorsk resident working for a local gas transportation company — of sending video footage of the restaurant to Russian military intelligence. The SBU did not name the person and the accusations could not be independently verified.

The restaurant’s terrace was a mess of overturned black-and-white sofas on Wednesday morning. As a crane lifted debris off a large pile of twisted rubble, distraught friends and relatives of people still missing waited anxiously behind police ribbon across the street. The restaurant’s owner paced while talking on her phone.

One woman was awaiting news of her niece. A man was seeking information about his brother-in-law. When emergency workers came out to take breaks, pouring water onto their heads to wash off the dust, people rushed over to ask them for updates.

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