Ukrainian rescuers dig for survivors after Russian missile strike

Missile strikes destroyed three buildings in the residential quarter of the town of Chasiv Yar, killing at least 15 people.

A rescue operation is under way after a missile strike on a residential building in Chasiv Yar, Ukraine on July 10, 2022 [Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko/Handout via Reuters]

Dozens of Ukrainian emergency workers laboured to pull people out of the rubble after a Russian rocket attack smashed into apartment buildings in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 15 people.

More than 20 people were believed still trapped on Sunday.

The strike late on Saturday destroyed three buildings in a residential quarter of the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk province, inhabited mostly by people who work in nearby factories.

The provincial governor of Donetsk said the town of about 12,000 was hit by Russian Uragan rockets that are fired from truck-borne systems.

Chasiv Yar is located 20km (12 miles) southeast of Kramatorsk, a city that is a major target of Russian forces as they grind westward.

On Sunday evening, rescuers were able to remove enough of the bricks and concrete to retrieve a man who had been trapped for almost 24 hours. Rescuers laid him on a stretcher, and he was quickly taken to hospital.

Ukraine’s Emergency Services said the latest rescue brought to six the number of people dug out of the rubble. Earlier on Sunday, they made contact with three others still trapped alive beneath the ruins.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said an estimated 24 people were believed still trapped beneath the collapsed building, including a 9-year-old child.

Cranes and excavators worked alongside rescue teams to clear away the ruins of one building, its walls completely shorn off by the impact of the strike.

The rescuers kept working in the rain despite the dangerous conditions.

The thud of artillery on the nearby front line resonated just a few miles away, making some workers flinch and others run for cover.

Rescuers work at a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike in the town of Chasiv Yar, Ukraine on July 10, 2022 [Gleb Garanich/Reuters]
Rescuers work at a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike in the town of Chasiv Yar, Ukraine on July 10, 2022 [Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

‘I’m waiting for a miracle’

Valerii, who gave only his first name, was desperately waiting to hear news of his sister and 9-year-old nephew, who lived in the collapsed building and had not answered his calls since Saturday night.

“Now I’m waiting for a miracle,” he said as he stood before the ruins and started to pray, hands clasped together tightly.

“We do not have good expectations, but I am avoiding such thoughts,” he said.

Viacheslav Boitsov, deputy chief of emergency service in the Donetsk region, told the Associated Press later on Sunday that four shells hit the neighbourhood and they were likely Russian Iskander missiles. Residents said they heard at least three explosions and that many people were badly wounded in the blasts.

Saturday’s attack was the latest in a series of strikes against civilian areas in the east, even as Russia repeatedly claims it is only hitting targets of military value in the war.

Twenty-one people were killed earlier this month when an apartment building and recreation area came under rocket fire in the southern Odesa region.

At least 19 people died when a Russian missile hit a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk in late June.

There was no comment about the Chasiv Yar attack at a Russian Defence Ministry briefing on Sunday.

Donetsk is one of two provinces – along with Luhansk – that make up the Donbas region, where separatist rebels have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014.

Russian forces are raising “true hell” in the Donbas, despite assessments they were taking an operational pause, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said Saturday.

After the recent seizure of Lysychansk – the last remaining Ukrainian-held city in Luhansk – some analysts predicted that Moscow’s troops likely would take some time to rearm and regroup.

But “so far there has been no operational pause announced by the enemy. He is still attacking and shelling our lands with the same intensity as before,” Haidai said.

Source: The Associated Press