Ukraine said it feared scores of civilians might be dead or injured on Monday after a Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping mall in the center of the country.
More than 1,000 civilians were inside at the time of the rocket attack, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
“The number of victims is impossible to imagine,” he added in a post on the Telegram messaging app, sharing video that showed plumes of gray smoke rising above a building that was consumed in flames as people and first responders ran in front of it.
Zelenskyy‘s office said it had confirmed that at least two people were killed and 20 others were injured, with nine of them in critical condition.
NBC News has not verified the numbers of any deaths from the incident, which took place in Kremenchuk, a city in the Poltava region on the banks of Ukraine’s Dnieper River.
With the fire covering more than 110,000 square feet, recovery efforts continued Monday with the help of 115 rescuers and 20 pieces of equipment, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service. Efforts also continued to extinguish the flames that had filled the one-story building that houses the shopping center.
Zelenskyy said the site did not present any danger or strategic value for the Russian army. “Russia continues to take out its powerlessness on ordinary citizens. It is useless to hope for adequacy and humanity on its part,” the Ukrainian leader added.
The mayor of Kremenchuk, Vitalii Maletskyi, also said in a Facebook post that the missile strike hit “a very crowded place, which is 100% not relevant to the hostilities.” He added that there were dead and injured, without specifying.
The strike comes just a day after Ukrainian officials blamed Russia for hitting two residential buildings in the capital, Kyiv, killing two people.
On Saturday, multiple missile strikes were reported by officials throughout the country, signaling that Russia was not limiting its assault to the eastern region of the Donbas, where Moscow has focused its fighting against Ukrainian forces in an effort to establish full control of the region.
This is a developing story, please check back for further updates.
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