Rescue hopes fade after Russian attack in Ukraine’s Dnipro, dozens fear dead

By Herbert Villarraga

DNIPRO, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine saw little hope of pulling other survivors from the rubble of a building in the city of Dnipro on Sunday, a day after the building was hit during a a major Russian missile attack, with dozens of people expected to be dead.

Adviser to the regional governor, Natalia Babachenko, said 30 people had been confirmed dead so far and more than 30 were hospitalized, 12 of them in serious condition. Between 30 and 40 people could still be trapped under debris, she said.

Rescuers said they heard people screaming for help under piles of debris from the nine-story building in the city’s east-central area and were using moments of silence to help direct their efforts. Freezing temperatures added to concerns for rescuers.

A group of firefighters found a scantily clad woman still alive more than 18 hours after the attack. They carried her safely in their arms. Dozens of grim-faced residents, young and old, watched in horror from the street.

A body was recovered by firefighters and lifted from the ruins onto a stretcher using a crane.

“The chances of saving people are now slim,” Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov told Reuters. I think the death toll will be in the tens. »

The Ukrainian Air Force said the building was hit by a Russian Kh-22 missile, which is known to be inaccurate and which Ukraine lacked the air defenses to shoot down. The Soviet-era missile was developed during the Cold War to destroy warships.

Filatov said two stairwells containing dozens of apartments were destroyed.

Russia fired two waves of missiles into Ukraine on Saturday, hitting targets across the country as battlefield fighting raged in the eastern towns of Soledar and Bakhmut.

Moscow, which invaded Ukraine last February, has been bombarding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing power outages and disruptions to central heating and running water.

In a statement on Sunday about its previous day of strikes, the Russian Defense Ministry did not mention Dnipro as a specific target.

“All assigned objects have been hit. The objectives of the strike have been achieved,” he added.

Rescuers toiled all night searching for survivors. On Sunday morning, they could be seen punching and kicking through piled mounds of shattered concrete and twisted metal.

“Two rooms on the second floor remain virtually intact but buried,” Oleh Kushniruk, deputy director of the regional branch of Ukraine’s state emergency services, told television.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s Southern Command said Russia fired only half of the cruise missiles it deployed in the Black Sea in Saturday’s attacks.

“It indicates that they still have some plans,” spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk said. “We have to understand that they can still be used.”


In his evening speech after the strike, 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 plan to send battle tanks to Kyiv and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein, Germany next Friday, where governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.

On Saturday, Britain followed France and Poland with pledges of additional weapons, saying it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks along with other forward 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 prolong the confrontation.

The Russian invasion has already killed thousands, displaced millions and turned many cities into rubble.


In the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine – the focal point of Russia’s drive to seize more territory – Ukrainian forces were fighting around the small mining town of Soledar.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Command, told Ukrainian television that Russian forces shelled the area around Soledar and Bakhmut 234 times in the past 24 hours.

Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of Soledar, which had a pre-war population of 10,000, in what would be a minor advance but one that would have psychological significance for Russian forces, which have suffered months of setbacks on the battlefield.

Ukraine insisted on Saturday that its forces were fighting to hold the city, but officials acknowledged the situation was difficult, with street fighting raging and Russian forces advancing from various directions.

“Our soldiers are constantly repelling enemy attacks, day and night,” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Saturday. “The enemy suffers heavy casualties but continues to carry out the criminal orders of his command.”

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of Warfare said it was highly unlikely that Ukrainian forces 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 further gains after Soledar.

“The dynamics are positive,” he told state television Rossiya 1. “Everything is developing within the framework of the plan of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff.”

(Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly and Dan Peleschuk; Writing by Lidia Kelly, Dan Peleschuk and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Frances Kerry, Philippa Fletcher and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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