More than 30 people were killed and over 100 were wounded in a Russian rocket strike on a railway station in east Ukraine today as civilians tried to evacuate to safer parts of the country, the state railway company said.
The strike was on Kramatorsk’s busy station, with graphic pictures on Friday showing bodies strewn across floor outside, lying amongst abandoned luggage.
Some had already been put into green body bags, while other photos showed smoke rising from the station as firefighters worked at the scene.
‘Two rockets hit the Kramatorsk railway station. People have been hurt. We are clarifying the details,’ Alexander Kamyshin, the head of Ukraine’s railway company wrote on social media.
It later added: ‘According to operational data, more than 30 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded in the rocket attack on Kramatorsk railway station.’
Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said thousands of people were at the train station at the time of the strike, preparing to evacuate to safer regions as Russia focuses its troops in eastern Ukraine.
Reuters news agency said it could not immediately verify the information. Russia has not yet commented on the reports of the attack and the death toll. Moscow has denied targeting civilians since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24.
‘The occupiers hit the Kramatorsk railway station with a Point-U, where thousands of peaceful Ukrainians were waiting to be evacuated… About 30 people died, about 100 people were injured to varying degrees,’ Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky wrote in an Instagram after the attack.
‘Police and rescuers are already on the scene. Russian non-humans do not abandon their methods. Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population. This is an evil that has no limits. And if it is not punished, it will never stop,’ he added.
Kramatorsk is found in the east of the country, about 50 miles north of Donetsk and 80 miles west of Luhansk. Pictures this week have shown hundreds of people at the station boarding trains heading west.
Three trains carrying evacuees were blocked in the same region of Ukraine on Thursday after an air strike on the line, according to the head of Ukrainian Railways.
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have been regrouping for a new offensive, and that Moscow plans to seize as much territory as it can in the eastern part of Ukraine known as Donbas bordering Russia. Local authorities in some areas have been urging civilians to leave the while it is still possible and relatively safe to do so.
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The strike was on Kramatorsk’s train station, with graphic pictures on Friday showing bodies strewn across floor outside, lying amongst abandoned luggage
Pictured: A scene of devastation outside the train station on Friday after ‘Russian’ missiles struck, killing more than 30 people
Pictured: Green body bags are shown outside the station on Friday
Pictured: Smoke rises from the station on Friday as firefighters work at the scene
Kramatorsk is found in the east of the country, about 80 miles west of Luhansk. Pictures this week have shown hundreds of people at the station boarding trains heading west
‘The occupiers hit the Kramatorsk railway station with a Point-U, where thousands of peaceful Ukrainians were waiting to be evacuated… About 30 people died, about 100 people were injured to varying degrees,’ Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky wrote in an Instagram after the attack. ‘Police and rescuers are already on the scene. Russian non-humans do not abandon their methods. Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population. This is an evil that has no limits. And if it is not punished, it will never stop,’ he added
The Civilians in eastern Ukraine struggled to evacuate Friday as Russia redirected its firepower, with Zelensky warning of ‘even more horrific’ devastation being uncovered around the capital.
Ukrainian allies tightened the screws on Moscow further in response to shocking images from Bucha and other regions around Kyiv, with the European Union announcing an embargo on Russian coal and a ban on Russian vessels at its ports.
And at the United Nations, the General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, only the second-ever suspension of a country from the body.
‘Russia’s lies are no match for the undeniable evidence of what is happening in Ukraine,’ US President Joe Biden said, calling Russia’s actions in the country ‘an outrage to our common humanity.’
More than a month into President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has shifted its focus after stiff resistance put paid to hopes of an easy capture of the country.
Instead, troops are being redeployed towards the east and south, aiming to create a long-sought land link between occupied Crimea and the Moscow-backed separatist statelets of Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas.
‘In the north, Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from Ukraine to Belarus and Russia,’ Britain’s defence ministry said. ‘At least some of these forces will be transferred to east Ukraine to fight in the Donbas,’ it added, noting that troops would need ‘significant replenishment’ and a mass redeployment would take at least a week.
Heavy shelling has already begun to lay waste to towns in the region, and officials have begged civilians to flee, but the intensity of fighting is starting to hamper evacuations.
Lugansk governor Sergiy Gaiday said Russian shelling had damaged a railway route being used by evacuees in the town of Schastia, north of Lugansk. ‘The railway was damaged. Train evacuation is in question. Thousands of people are still in the cities of Lugansk region,’ he wrote on Facebook.
And in Donetsk, the head of the regional military administration Pavlo Kyrylenko said three evacuation trains had been temporarily blocked after a Russian airstrike on an overpass by a station.
But officials continued to press civilians to leave where possible.
‘There is no secret – the battle for Donbas will be decisive. What we have already experienced, all this horror, it can multiply,’ warned Gaiday. ‘Leave! The next few days are the last chances. Buses will be waiting for you in the morning,’ he added.
APRIL 6: Civilians gather at the train station to be evacuated from combat zones in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast after being told by Ukrainian authorities to evacuate the eastern regions of the country in anticipation of Russia re-focusing its military invasion on the Donbas region
Pictured: Civilians board trains as they are being evacuated from combat zones in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, in eastern Ukraine on April 6, 2022
A barrage of shells and rockets was already hammering the industrial hub Severodonetsk, the easternmost city held by Ukrainian forces in Donbas, leaving buildings engulfed in flames.
‘Every day it’s worse and worse. They’re raining down on us from everywhere. We cannot take it anymore,’ said Denis, a man in his forties with a pale, emaciated face. ‘I want to escape this hell.’
Around the capital meanwhile, residents and Ukrainian officials returning after the Russian redeployment are trying to piece together the scale of the devastation.
Violence in the town of Bucha, where authorities say hundreds were killed – including some found with their hands bound – has become a byword for allegations of brutality inflicted under Russian occupation.
But Zelensky warned worse was being uncovered.
‘They have started sorting through the ruins in Borodianka,’ northwest of Kyiv, he said in his nightly address. ‘It’s much more horrific there, there are even more victims of Russian occupiers.’
Violence in the area has caused massive destruction, levelling and damaging many buildings, and bodies are only now being retrieved.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Thursday that 26 bodies had been recovered from two destroyed apartment buildings so far.
‘Only the civilian population was targeted: there is no military site here,’ she said, describing evidence of war crimes ‘at every turn’.
Fresh allegations emerged from other areas too, with villagers in Obukhovychi, northwest of Kyiv, telling AFP they were used as human shields.
And in besieged Mariupol, even the pro-Russian official designated ‘mayor’ of the destroyed city acknowledged that around 5,000 civilians had been killed there.
Civilians gather at the train station to be evacuated from combat zones in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, in eastern Ukraine on April 6, 2022
Moscow has denied targeting civilians in areas under its control, but growing evidence of atrocities has galvanised Ukraine’s allies to pile on more pressure.
On Thursday, the EU approved an embargo on Russian coal and the closing of its ports to Russian vessels as part of a ‘very substantial’ new round of sanctions that also includes an export ban and new measures against Russian banks. In addition, it backed a proposal to boost its funding of arms supplies to Ukraine by 500 million euros, taking it to a total of 1.5 billion euros.
In a show of support, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also headed to Kyiv on Friday with the bloc’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell for talks with Zelensky.
And the Group of Seven industrialised nations agreed to more sanctions, including a ban on new investments in key sectors and fresh export restrictions, as well as the phasing out of Russian coal.
At the United Nations, 93 of the General Assembly’s 193 members voted to suspend Russia from the body’s rights council over its actions in Ukraine.
Russia blasted the move as ‘illegal and politically motivated’, while Biden said it confirmed Moscow as an ‘international pariah’.
Ukraine has welcomed new measures on Moscow, as well as the UN suspension, but it continues to push for more support. ‘Ukraine needs weapons that will allow us to win on the battlefield, and this will be the strongest sanction,’ Zelensky said in his address, echoing calls from his foreign minister, who earlier asked NATO for heavy weaponry, including air defence systems, artillery, armoured vehicles and jets.
‘Either you help us now – and I’m speaking about days, not weeks – or your help will come too late, and many people will die, many civilians will lose their homes, many villages will be destroyed,’ Dmytro Kuleba said after meeting NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.