At least 39 people, including four children, have been killed and nearly 100 wounded in a rocket attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials.
In an online post on Friday, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko revised an earlier estimate of 30 killed and said many of the 87 wounded were in a serious condition. A Ukrainian intelligence official said four children were among those killed.
Ukrainian officials accused Russia over the attack, saying it took place as civilians were at the station in an attempt to evacuate to safer parts of the country. Russia, however, denied any involvement.
“Two rockets hit Kramatorsk railway station,” Ukrainian Railways said in a statement.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of the railway company, called it “a deliberate attack on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk”.
AFP news agency said its journalists on the scene saw at least 20 bodies of people grouped and lying under plastic sheets next to the station. Blood was pooling on the ground and packed bags were strewn outside the building in the immediate aftermath of the attack, it reported.
The journalists said four cars next to the station had been destroyed and the remains of a large rocket with the words “for our children” in Russian were lying adjacent to the main building. Bodies were later seen being loaded onto a military truck.
“This is just an ordinary railway terminal … just an ordinary town in the east of Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address to the Finnish parliament.
“This is how Russia came to protect the Donbas, how they view the protection of the Russian-speaking population. And this is the 44th day of our reality,” he added, referring to the time that has passed since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.
Earlier on Friday, Kyrylenko had said thousands of people had been at the station at the time the rockets struck.
“The ‘Rashists’ [‘Russian fascists’] knew very well where they were aiming and what they wanted: They wanted to sow panic and fear, they wanted to take as many civilians as possible,” he said.
Kyrylenko published a photograph online showing several bodies on the ground beside piles of suitcases and other luggage. Armed police wearing flak jackets stood beside them. Another photo showed rescue services tackling what appeared to be a fire, with a pall of grey smoke rising into the air.
Russia has denied targeting civilians since invading Ukraine.