At least a dozen people have been killed in a Russian missile strike on a residential block in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, part of a massive wave of attacks targeting both civilians and energy infrastructure.
Rescue teams worked through the night in sub-zero temperatures to find survivors in the rubble of the nine-story building, with screams heard from below the wreckage.
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Footage from the scene of the attack showed the tower had been largely toppled, with large plumes of smoke rising into the air as emergency services carried out their search.
UkrainePresident Volodymyr Zelensky said the death toll would likely rise in the country’s fourth-largest city, located at the center of the Dnipro River and home to a large Holocaust memorial and museum.
More than 60 people have been injured and 37 have been rescued so far, a statement from his office added.
Dnipro Deputy Mayor Mikhailo Lysenko said in a video on social media that desperate residents were texting from their destroyed apartments, adding: “We stop our work from time to time to keep quiet, and we hear people screaming under the rubble”.
“Russian terror” hits key infrastructure
Saturday’s wave of Russian strikes also hit critical infrastructure in several major cities: in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital; Kharkiv to the east; and Lviv to the west.
The Ukrainian Air Force managed to shoot down 25 of the 38 missiles fired by the invaders, but those that landed disrupted parts of the towns’ power supply.
Moscow has intensified its bombardment of Ukrainian energy infrastructure since October, causing major blackouts, cutting off central heating and running water.
Mr Zelenskyy called the latest attacks “Russian terror”, Vladimir PoutineUkrainian forces seek to increase the suffering of Ukrainians during the freezing winter months.
Ukraine’s energy minister has warned that the next few days will be “difficult” due to the impact of Saturday’s attack, which also left one dead in the steel town of Kryviy Rih.
Allies promise more help
Ukraine’s allies have pledged to send more military aid, with the White House ambassador to Kyiv condemning the attacks on Dnipro as “horrific”.
“More security aid is coming to help Ukraine defend itself,” Bridget Brink said on Twitter.
The United States has pledged 50 Bradley anti-tank armored vehicles in its largest military assistance package to date.
Meanwhile, Britain has become the first Western country to pledge tanks to Kyiv.
Fourteen Challenger 2 tanks will be sent in the coming weeks, as well as about thirty AS90 propelled guns, which are large armaments operated by five gunners.
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Mr Zelenskyy thanked the UK for its ‘impenetrable’ support following a call with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunakbut requested more help from other allies.
“The whole world knows what and how to arrest those who sow death,” he said in his evening speech.
It is hoped that other allies will follow, including Germany, unlocking the Leopard 2 tank, which has been manufactured in far greater numbers and is used by several other European countries.
Ukraine’s allies are meeting in Ramstein, Germany on Friday, where governments will announce their final commitments.
The battle for the hotly contested city continues
Despite Russian claims of victoryFighting continued on Saturday in the town of Soledar – a site in the eastern Donetsk region that has seen some of the bloodiest fighting of the war.
The city’s fall would mark a rare victory for the Kremlin after a series of battlefield setbacks, as Moscow says the takeover would allow its forces to cut supply lines to Ukrainian troops in the nearby town of Bakhmut.
But pockets of resistance remain and Ukrainian officials have said the battle continues.
“Our soldiers are constantly repelling enemy attacks, day and night,” said Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar.
“The enemy suffers heavy casualties but continues to carry out the criminal orders of his command.”