Kramatorsk, Ukraine: Dozens of people have died after rockets struck a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk that was being used to evacuate civilians to safer parts of the country, Ukrainian authorities have said.
The state railway company said two Russian rockets struck the station, killing at least 35 people and injuring more than 100. A rescue worker said at the scene that at least 35 people had died.
Four of them are children, Artyom Dehtyarenko of the Ukrainian Security Service said on Facebook.
Officials said earlier that Russia “deliberately” struck the overcrowded railway station where thousands of civilians were awaiting evacuation trains.
Reporters saw at least 20 bodies grouped and lying under plastic sheets next to the station. Blood was pooling on the ground and packed bags were strewn outside the building.
The journalists said four cars next to the station had been destroyed and the remains of a large rocket with the words “for our children” in Russian were lying adjacent to the main building. Bodies were later seen being loaded on to a military truck.
Russia denied carrying out a missile strike on the station and claimed the missile involved was only used by the Ukrainian military. Moscow has denied targeting civilians since invading Ukraine in February.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, said thousands of people had been at the station when the rockets struck.
“The Rashists [Russian fascists] knew very well where they were aiming and what they wanted: they wanted to sow panic and fear, they wanted to take as many civilians as possible,” he said.
Kyrylenko published a photo online showing several bodies on the ground beside piles of suitcases and other luggage. Armed police wearing flak jackets stood beside them. Another photo showed rescue services tackling what appeared to be a fire, with a pall of grey smoke rising into the air.
“This is a deliberate attack on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk,” the head of Ukraine’s railway company, Alexander Kamyshin, wrote on social media.
Three trains carrying evacuees were blocked in the same region of Ukraine on Thursday after an airstrike on the line, according to the head of Ukrainian Railways.
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have been regrouping for a new offensive and that Moscow plans to seize as much territory as it can in the eastern part of Ukraine known as Donbas, bordering Russia.
Local authorities in some areas have been urging civilians to leave while it is still possible, and relatively safe, to do so.
Kramatorsk was hit by Russian strikes earlier this week but had otherwise largely been spared the destruction witnessed by other east Ukraine cities since Russia’s invasion.