Rescue teams search for survivors after deadly Russian missile strike

Rescue teams with sniffer dogs have combed through debris in a central Ukrainian city looking for people missing after a Russian missile strike a day earlier that killed at least 23 people.

ussian forces, meanwhile, pounded other sites in a push to wrest territory from Ukraine and try to crush the morale of its leaders, civilians and troops as the war nears the five-month mark.

The cruise missile strikes on Vinnytsia launched by a Russian submarine on Thursday were the latest incidents to take civilian lives and fan international outrage since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on February 24.

The campaign has been focusing on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region but Russian forces regularly fire on targets in other parts of the country too.

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A pushchair lies by a road after a deadly Russian missile attack (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on Friday that Russian forces had conducted more than 17,000 strikes on civilian targets during the war, driving millions from their homes, killing thousands of fighters and civilians and affecting through the world economy by hiking prices and reducing exports of key Ukrainian and Russian products like food stuffs, fuel and fertiliser.

More than 73 people — including four children — remained in hospital and 18 were missing after Thursday’s missile strike, said Oleksandr Kutovyi, spokesman for the emergency service in the Vinnytsia region.

Search teams were poring over two sites on Friday — an office building with a medical centre inside, and a concert hall near an outdoor recreation area and park, where mothers with children often stroll.

Vinnytsia governor Serhiy Borzov said only 10 people among the nearly two dozen killed had been identified so far.

“Russia deliberately hit civilians and all those responsible for the crime must be brought to account,” he said, denouncing the “barbaric behaviour by Russia that tramples on international humanitarian law”.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of the president’s office, said three missiles were used.

“There is no answer to the question why yesterday and why in Vinnytsia,” Mr Tymoshenko said. “We expect every second and minute that this could happen in any corner of Ukraine.”

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Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a building that was damaged (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

After initial silence after the strikes on Vinnytsia, the Russian military said on Friday its forces had struck an officers’ club — which the concert hall has been known for back in Soviet times. Ukrainian authorities insisted the site had nothing to do with the military.

Overall, Ukraine’s presidential office said 26 civilians have been killed and another 190 were wounded by Russian shelling over the past 24 hours.

That included three other victims in the Donetsk region, which along with neighbouring Luhansk — nearly totally controlled by Russian forces — makes up the broader Donbas region.

“The situation in the Donetsk region is exacerbating every day, and civilians must leave because the Russian army is using scorched earth tactics,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

It appeared that the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk were next in line for Russian forces but it was not at all clear how soon such a push could begin in earnest.

Elsewhere, authorities in Mykolayiv said there were at least 10 explosions in the southern city overnight, accusing Russian fire of hitting universities.

Vitaliy Kim, the head of Mykolaiv’s military administration, posted on social media a video of smoke rising over the scene of the strikes.

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