Missiles from Russia have struck the heart of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, resulting in four deaths and numerous injuries, as reported by Ukrainian authorities.
Tuesday’s attack targeted a restaurant and a commercial district in the city, which is under Ukrainian jurisdiction but proximate to Russian-controlled territories of Ukraine.
A rescue operation is currently in progress to save individuals who may be trapped beneath the debris.
A witness reported to the media that he observed “dead people, people screaming, people crying, huge chaos”.
Among the deceased from the attack is a 17-year-old girl, with the incident occurring around 19:30 local time (11:30 pm GMT+7).
Residential buildings were also in the blast’s immediate vicinity, as confirmed by officials.
Visuals from social media and drone recordings depict extensive destruction to the structures, some of which have been leveled.
Arnaud De Decker, a Belgian independent journalist, reported that he was present at the well-known Ria Lounge restaurant shortly before it was struck.
“There’s still people underneath the rubble because it’s a big restaurant,” he confirmed.
“Currently, I can hear people screaming underneath the rubble as rescuers are trying to save them.”
He suggested that nearly 80 employees and patrons were in the restaurant at the moment of impact, hence the casualty count might be “severe”.
Authorities have confirmed that at least 40 individuals, including a baby of eight months and three foreigners, have been injured.
Emergency services are conducting a rescue operation in the city centre with support from security agencies to evacuate the wounded.
Local administration reveals that a large number of civilians were present in the area when the missiles landed.
“This is the city centre. These were public eating places crowded with civilians,” regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko informed Ukrainian television.
De Decker portrayed the restaurant as a local “gathering hub” frequented by military personnel, journalists, and volunteers.
A nearby village was also under attack by Russian forces, as stated by the Kramatorsk city council.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky articulated that the assault confirmed to Ukraine and the globe that Russia deserved “only defeat and a tribunal, just and lawful courts against all Russian murderers and terrorists”.
The White House rebuked Russia for its “brutal strikes” on Ukraine.
Kramatorsk has frequently been under missile attacks since the invasion initiated in February 2022.
With a population of 150,000, the city remains one of the largest under Ukrainian control in the embattled east, approximately 30km (18 miles) from the frontline.
Last April, over 60 fatalities were reported in Kramatorsk following a missile strike on the city’s railway station.
Exactly one year ago, a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk was targeted by Russian artillery, causing at least 18 deaths.
This recent assault occurs as Mr Zelensky announced that Ukraine’s counter-offensive was making progress on all fronts.