13 people killed in Russia missile attack in Zaporozhye

  • Russian missile attack kills 13 in southeastern Ukraine
  • Russia says rail traffic across the bridge will continue as planned
  • The bridge across the Kerch Strait was vital for supplying Russian troops
  • The imposing structure is a symbol of Russia’s annexation of Crimea

KYIV, Oct 9 (Reuters) – At least 13 people were killed and 87 injured, including 10 children, when a Russian missile struck an apartment building and other residential buildings in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya early on Sunday, Ukrainian officials said.

Meanwhile, rail services and partial road traffic resumed a day after a powerful bomb destroyed a bridge linking Russia with Crimea, a key supply route for Moscow’s forces fighting in southern Ukraine and a landmark linking the peninsula.

Saturday’s explosion on a bridge over the Kerch Strait prompted cheers from Ukrainian officials, but no claim of responsibility. Russia did not immediately claim responsibility for the blast, which blew away half of the bridge’s roadway, with the other half still attached.

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Sunday’s pre-dawn fusillade in Zaporizhia was the second of its kind against the city in three days.

Russian aircraft fired at least 12 missiles, partially destroying a nine-story apartment building, leveling five other residential buildings and damaging several others, Oleksandr Starukh, the governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on state-run television.

At least 13 people died and 87 were injured, 60 of whom were hospitalized, regional officials said. Among the injured were 10 children.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the “absolute evil” of what he called “barbarians and terrorists”, promising that those responsible would be brought to justice.

The city of Zaporizhzhia, about 52 km (30 miles) from the Russian-controlled nuclear power plant, has come under frequent shelling in recent weeks, killing 19 people on Thursday.

Emergency workers and firefighters surrounded the nine-story building and dug for survivors and casualties in the smoldering wreckage of a massive central section that collapsed.

Cars were wrecked in the blast and torn metal window frames, balconies and air conditioners dangled from the building’s shredded facade.

Much of the Zaporizhia region, including the nuclear power plant, has been under Russian control since the early days of Russia’s invasion in February. The region’s capital city of Zaporizhia is under Ukrainian control.

Kerch Strait

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Kuznulin said divers would begin work on Sunday to survey the damage to the Crimea bridge, and a detailed survey above the waterline was expected to be completed by the end of the day, local news agencies said.

“The situation is manageable – it is unpleasant, but not dangerous,” Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian governor of Crimea, told reporters. “Of course, emotions are stirred up and there’s a healthy desire for revenge.”

Russia’s transport ministry said freight trains and long-distance passenger trains across the bridge were running on schedule on Sunday. Limited road traffic resumed on Saturday, 10 hours after the blast.

“Until a special order is issued, only passenger cars will use the road section of the Crimean Bridge. The railway line will operate as usual. All types of buses and heavy vehicles will be transported by ferry,” Aksionov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

It is not yet clear whether Saturday’s bombing was a planned attack, but the damage to such a high-profile structure comes amid a string of battlefield defeats for Russia and could further overshadow Kremlin assurances that the conflict was planned.

Aksionov said the peninsula has a month’s worth of fuel and more than two months’ worth of food. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that its forces in southern Ukraine could already be “fully supplied” by land and sea routes.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and a 19-km (12-mile) bridge linking the region to its transport network was opened to great fanfare by President Vladimir Putin four years later.

Kiev is demanding that Russian forces leave the Black Sea peninsula, as well as Ukrainian territory they seized in an invasion launched by Putin in February.

The bridge is a vital artery for Russian forces in southern Ukraine and the port of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based.

Three people were killed in the blast early Saturday, Russian officials said. At the upper level of the bridge, seven fuel tanker wagons of a 59-wagon train bound for the peninsula caught fire.

Russia’s Central Anti-Terrorism Agency said on Saturday that a cargo truck had exploded on the bridge’s road. It said two spans of the road bridge had partially collapsed, but the arch spanning the shipping channel between the Black Sea and the Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov was undamaged.

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Reporting by Max Hunder, Jonathan Landay in Kyiv, Sergiy Chalyi in Zaporizhzia and Reuters bureaux; By Jonathan Lande and Frances Kerry; Editing by Reisa Kasolowski and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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