A missile attack hits a shopping mall with 1,000 people inside

KYIV, Ukraine —A Russian missile strike hit a shopping mall in central Ukraine’s Poltava region on Monday, killing at least 10 people and injuring dozens more, Ukrainian authorities said. know.

The Ukrainian president said an estimated 1,000 people were inside the building at the time of the strike, near a railway station in the industrial city of Kremenchuk.

Video shot after the warning and posted online showing a raging fire as emergency personnel frantically trying to put out the fire and civilians getting the injured into ambulances. Footage that appeared to have been captured by exit runners showed them navigating a dense cloud of dust and dust as they climbed over broken windows, doors and crumbling walls.

By Monday evening, Ukrainian media reported that 115 firefighters had extinguished the massive blaze and that rescuers were continuing to search for survivors among the debris.

Located along the Dnieper River, Kremenchuk is a major industrial center of Ukraine with factories for the production of railway cars and trucks. According to local media, it is also home to Ukraine’s largest oil refinery, which has been repeatedly targeted by Russian missiles as part of Moscow’s strategy to destroy production infrastructure. and the country’s fuel storage.

The Ukrainian Air Force said in a statement posted on Telegram that the shopping center in Kremenchuk was hit by a missile fired by a long-range bomber from Russia’s Kursk region.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the mall “does not pose a danger to the Russian military” in comments posted on Telegram. “There is no strategic value. Only people’s attempts to live a normal life make the occupants angry. “

The attack on the Kremenchuk Palace comes after Russia’s sudden escalation, firing more than 65 missiles at Ukraine over the weekend. On Monday, a strike in the northeastern city of Kharkiv left four people dead and 19 injured, according to local authorities.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Interior Minister of Ukraine, visited the site of the attack. He posted a video on Telegram of himself standing in front of a smoking pile of rubble, as rescuers processed the scene.

“See what Amstor shopping center has turned into,” he wrote in the caption, “a place that thousands of people in Kremenchuk love to visit.”

Pro-Kremlin journalists were quick to deny Russia’s involvement and offer alternative theories as to what caused the fire.

Andrei Rudenko, a reporter for Russian state television network Rossiya, called the fire “a provocation” and cast doubt on claims that 1,000 people were inside the mall by citing pictures of the parking lot. empty car in front of it.

“It feels like they burned it all on their own and shot at it to make the photo look better,” he said in his channel on Telegram, a social messaging app.

Other pro-Russian commentators suggested that a large machinery factory behind the mall was the target, saying the mall itself was collateral damage.

Kremenchuk had a population of nearly 220,000 before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in late February.

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