Dozens missing in Russia’s missile strike on mall that left 18 dead


Ukrainian authorities said 36 people are still missing as firefighters continue searching through the rubble of the mall that was hit by Russian missile on Monday that killed 18 shoppers.

The mall attack drew a wave of global condemnation, with France’s Emmanuel Macron calling it a “war crime”.

The missile strike in the central city of Kremenchuk and the reported attack in the Dnipropetrovsk region were far from any frontlines.

Ukraine said Moscow had killed civilians deliberately in Kremenchuk. Russia said it had struck a nearby arms depot and falsely claimed that the mall was empty.

The governor of Dnipropetrovsk said rescue workers were searching for people under rubble in the region’s main city, Dnipro.

The official, Valentyn Reznychenko, said Russia fired six missiles, three of which were shot down. Railway infrastructure and an industrial enterprise had been destroyed and a services company was burning.

“Mass enemy attack on Dnipropetrovsk region. Six missiles!!!” he wrote on the Telegram app.

Reuters could not independently verify the governor’s account. The Russian Defence Ministry did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

Relatives of the missing in Kremenchuk were lined up at a hotel across the street from the wreckage of the shopping centre, where rescue workers had set up a base. Adults and children, some in tears, lit candles and laid flowers in a tribute to the dead.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians in “one of the most defiant terrorist attacks in European history”.

Russia’s defence ministry said its missiles had struck a nearby arms depot storing Western weapons, which exploded, causing the blaze that spread to the nearby mall.

Kyiv said there was no military target in the area.

“Russia’s goal is for as many Ukrainians as possible to close their eyes forever, for the rest to stop resisting and submit to slavery,” Andriy Yermak, chief of Ukraine’s presidential staff, said on Twitter.

Russia described the shopping centre as disused and empty. But that was contradicted by the relatives of the dead and missing, and the dozens of wounded survivors such as LudmylaMykhailets, 43, who had been shopping there with her husband when the blast threw her into the air.

“I flew head first and splinters hit my body. The whole place was collapsing,” she said at a hospital where she was being treated.

G7 leaders said the attack was “abominable”. Russian President Vladimir Putin and those responsible would be held to account, they said in a statement.

Russia denies intentionally targeting civilians in its “special military operation” that has destroyed Ukrainian cities, killed thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.

Ukraine endured another tough day on the battlefields of the eastern Donbas region following last week’s loss of the now-ruined city of Sievierodonetsk.

Russian forces are now trying to storm Lysychansk, across the Siverskyi Donets River from Sievierodonetsk, to complete their capture of Luhansk, one of two eastern provinces Moscow aims to conquer on behalf of separatist proxies. (Source: CNA)