The death toll following a missile attack on a train station full of civilians seeking to evacuate has risen to 52, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Friday.
Kyrylenko said 12 people were killed instantly, while another 40 died later from injuries in hospital.
Among the dead were five children.
Civilians had gathered in hopes of being moved to safer parts of the country when the station came under attack. Photographs and videos taken immediately after the explosion showed the dead on the ground, many with missing limbs and in one case a severed head.
The remains of the Russian rocket revealed “for children” had been written on the side.
What do we know about the attack?
In a Facebook post, Zelenskyy said a Russian Tochka-U missile hit the Kramatorsk train station.
Zelenskyy wrote: “Lacking strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, [the Russians] cynically destroy the civilian population.”
He added, “If it’s not punished, it will never end.”
After the attack, Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko said authorities were continuing to work on resuming the evacuation of residents by bus and car. During an online briefing, Honcharenko appealed for help with the effort.
“Today we start an emergency evacuation of people with all public transport, all private transport. We are looking for drivers. About 30 to 40 drivers are needed so far,” he said.
Honcharenko added that around 4,000 people were at the station when the attack happened. With dozens of surgeons working to treat the injured, the nearby hospital was struggling to cope.
Honcharenko said: “There are a lot of people in serious condition, without arms or legs.”
Ukraine’s prosecutor general said most of those gathered were women and children.
What was the reaction to the attack?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia was an “evil that knows no bounds” in the aftermath of the attack.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in London with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, called the attack “atrocious”, also referring to other “shocking” images and reports from Bucha, Mariupol and other places in Ukraine in recent weeks. Johnson, meanwhile, described the Kramatosk attack as “inconceivable”.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the attack constituted a war crime, while Ursula von der Leyen called it “atrocious” during her visit to Kyiv on Friday.
“There are almost no words for it,” von der Leyen said, adding, “Cynical behavior has almost no reference anymore.”
US President Joe Biden spoke of a “horrible atrocity” while the French government called it a “crime against humanity”.
The United States said it believed Russia used a short-range ballistic missile in its strike on the Kramatorsk train station.
Russia has denied any responsibility for the attack. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that Russia was not using the type of missile identified in the attack.
Military experts almost immediately dismissed this claim and pointed to the use of Tochka-U missiles already in the six-week war following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
ar/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)