June 16, 2024

Toll from Russian strike on Kharkiv hardware store rises to 14

The death toll from Russian strikes on a hardware store in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv rose to 14 Sunday, the regional governor said as rescuers searched the charred debris for bodies.

“The number of dead has grown to 14,” Oleg Synegubov, Kharkiv regional governor, said on Telegram, as nearly 200 rescuers worked at the scene. 

Interior minister Igor Klymenko said earlier that 43 were injured and “16 people are considered missing”, after Russian strikes hit the Epitsentr superstore on Saturday, sparking a massive fire.

“It took more than 16 hours to extinguish the fire in the Kharkiv construction hypermarket caused by targeted Russian strikes,” the minister said on Telegram. 

Forensics experts and investigators were still working to identify bodies in the ruined store in the northeastern outskirts of the city, Klymenko said.

Earlier, Synegubov said two of the people who had been killed worked in the hypermarket, adding that the city had been under “massive rocket fire all day”.

Still wearing her uniform, Lyubov, a cleaner at the store, recalled how she escaped the building. 

“It happened all of a sudden. We didn’t understand at first, everything went dark and everything started falling on our heads,” she said. 

“It was good that my phone lit up, thanks to the flashlight I found where to go, but in front of us everything was burning already.” 

Zelensky condemned the daylight attack on an “obviously civilian” target.

“Only madmen like Putin are capable of killing and terrorising people in such a vile way,” he said, referring to the Russian president, who ordered his troops into Ukraine in February 2022. 

Russia’s TASS state news agency cited a security source claiming that the hypermarket missile strike destroyed a “military store and command post” inside the shopping centre.

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