At least 53 people have been injured and a children’s hospital as well as homes damaged after Russia launched a missile attack on Kyiv in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
People were woken by a series of loud explosions as air defence systems brought down 10 ballistic missiles aimed at the capital, with the debris falling on the eastern side of the Dnipro river that flows through the city.
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Ukraine’s national police said 53 people, including six children, were hurt in the attack with 18 people taken to hospital. Eighteen people have been hospitalised, it said in a social media post.
“Just yesterday, (US) President (Joe) Biden and I agreed to work on increasing the number of air defence systems in Ukraine. The terrorist state demonstrated how important this decision is,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram, referring to Russia.
The explosions blew out windows of residential apartment blocks as frightened residents ran onto the street. Falling missile debris left a vast crater in the ground and destroyed parked cars.
“There was no air raid siren. At around 4am (02:00 GMT), I heard an explosion. We fled to the corridor, (the explosion wave) threw me into the doors,” Olena Ustinova, 45, a local administration clerk, told the Reuters news agency.
“I regained consciousness and started to shake the doors but they were blocked. I shouted for help from my balcony and emergency workers came to help me.”
Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff said Russia had fired Iskander-M ballistic missiles, as well as S-400s: extremely fast missiles intended for air defence, but which have also been used to hit ground targets.
Windows and entrances at a children’s hospital in Kyiv’s Dniprovskyi district were shattered by the debris, but based on initial assessments, there were no casualties, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
“These (ballistic) missiles fly at a speed up to 8,000km per hour,” Klitschko told Reuters while visiting a site near one of the damaged buildings.
Kyiv military administration chief Serhiy Popko said 17 people, including seven children, were evacuated from a residential building in the district after debris hit a building and nearby cars, causing a fire.
On Monday, a Russian missile attack destroyed several homes on the outskirts of Kyiv injuring four people and cutting electricity to more than 100 households.
The attack came after Zelenskyy was in the United States, urging right-wing Republicans to back billions of dollars in new military aid for his country.
US President Joe Biden warned the lawmakers they would risk giving Russia a “Christmas gift” if they failed to approve the assistance.