Kyiv — Survivors of the Russian missile attack on a shopping center in central Ukraine on Monday have been describing their experiences, with one calling it simply “hell.”
On Tuesday, a shopping center burned after a rocket attack, killing and injuring dozens of people in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.
Kremenchuk’s public hospital has injured crammed in wards and intensive care units. Some of the wounds are just bound in bloodied bandages. A dead body covered in a blanket lay on a stretcher outside.
Yulia, a 21-year-old woman with deep cuts, said Monday was her first day of work at one of the shopping center’s stores.
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The hospital is treating 25 people wounded n the attack, six in critical condition. Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday that the strike killed at least 18 people and injured 59 others, while more than 40 were missing.
Ludmyla Mykhailets, 43, admitted to the hospital’s general ward, said she and her husband, Mykola, were shopping at an electronics store when the blast threw her into the air.
“I flew head first as splinters hit my body. The entire place was collapsing. I fell on the floor and don’t know if I was conscious or not,” she said. The woman suffered a broken arm and split her head open.
“It was like hell,” added Mykola, 45, as blood seeped through a bandage wrapped around his head.
Outside the hospital, a surviving group of workers from the shopping center stood in worry, grief, and relief.
Roman, 28, said that upon hearing an air-raid siren, they had made their way to a nearby basement when the missiles struck.
Roman added that many others had stayed inside as the management had allowed shops to remain open three days ago during air raid warnings.
Many Ukrainians have stopped reacting to the regular warning sirens, as strikes have been occurring less frequently outside Ukraine’s battle-torn east.
Oleksandr Kovalenko, deputy director of the hospital’s surgery department; said Monday’s attack was the sixth on the city since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. “But it never hit so many people before,” he added.
People lined up at a hotel near the shopping center on Tuesday to register the names of those missing while rescue workers continued to sift through the rubble to look for survivors.
The strike drew a global outcry, with G7 leaders condemning it as “abominable” as they gathered for a summit in Germany.
“This is not an accidental hit. This attack is a calculated Russian strike,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an evening video address. He said the death count could rise.
He estimated around 1,000 people were in the shopping center during the strike. The city had a population of 217,000 before the invasion.
Russia claimed Tuesday that its missiles had struck a nearby weapons storage facility and that the shopping center was closed.
Moscow has categorically denied it targets civilian infrastructure, even though Russian attacks have hit other shopping centers, theaters, hospitals, kindergartens, and apartment buildings — killing and injuring thousands of people.