A rocket attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk killed dozens on Friday as civilians raced to leave the Donbas region in the crosshairs of the Russian army, reports AFP.
Thirty-nine people were killed, including four children, Ukraine’s SBU security service said, in one of the deadliest strikes of the six-week-old war, reports AFP.
President Volodymyr Zelensky reported 300 were injured, saying the strike showed “evil with no limits.”
AFP journalists on the scene saw the bodies of at least 30 people grouped and lying under plastic sheets next to the station, before being loaded onto a military truck.
Blood was pooling on the ground and packed bags were strewn outside the building in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
The remains of a large rocket with the words “for our children” in Russian was lying just adjacent to the main building.
“I’m looking for my husband. He was here. I can’t reach him,” a woman told AFP, sobbing and holding her phone to her ear.
Another woman in a state of shock said: “I was in the station. I heard like a double explosion. I rushed to the wall for protection.
“Then I saw people covered in blood entering the station and bodies everywhere on the ground.”
Suitcases, stuffed animals and bags were scattered around the station and across the platform, interspersed with human remains.
The Russian Defense Ministry said suggestions it had carried out the attack were “absolutely untrue.”
The bombing came as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell headed to Kyiv on Friday in a sign of solidarity with Ukraine.
More than a month into President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has shifted its focus to eastern and southern parts of the country after stiff resistance torpedoed its plans of an easy capture of the capital Kyiv.
Instead, Russian troops appear to be aiming to create a long-sought land link between occupied Crimea and the Moscow-backed separatist statelets of Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas.
Heavy shelling has already begun to lay waste to towns in the region, and officials have begged civilians to flee, but the intensity of fighting is impeding evacuations.
In Donetsk, the head of the regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said three evacuation trains had been temporarily blocked after a Russian airstrike on an overpass by a station.
But officials continued to press civilians to leave where possible.
“There is no secret — the battle for Donbas will be decisive. What we have already experienced, all this horror, it can multiply,” warned governor of the Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday.
“Leave! The next few days are the last chances. Buses will be waiting for you in the morning,” he added.