Death Toll Rises After Russian Strike Destroys Apartment Block

At least 21 people have died after a Russian missile strike hit a nine-story apartment building in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Saturday, one of the largest losses of civilian lives far from the frontline since the beginning of the war.

Rescue workers were still digging through the rubble of the building on Sunday, according to videos posted by Ukrainian emergency services at the scene of the strike.

The residential building was struck late on Saturday afternoon as Russia launched dozens of missiles at cities across Ukraine in two waves of strikes that coincided with the Orthodox New Year and shattered the relative calm of recent days.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the office of the Ukrainian president, said that at least 21 people, including one child, had been killed in the attack and that emergency workers were still searching through the rubble on Sunday morning.

At least 73 people were injured in the attack, and at least 37 people were still missing. At least 400 people lived in the large apartment building and the immediate area around it, Mr. Tymoshenko said, and 72 apartments had been destroyed in the attack.

The bodies of five people killed in a missile strike near the scene on Sunday.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

In one image from the scene of the attack, a young woman was photographed clutching a stuffed animal and a golden Christmas garland as she stood in the ruins of the building waiting to be rescued.

In a post on a verified account on Instagram, the photo-sharing app, the woman, who gave her name as Anastasiia Shvets, said her parents were still missing. She described how she had escaped unharmed except for a small head wound and bruises on her legs.

“I have no words, I have no emotions, I feel nothing except a great emptiness inside,” she wrote, sharing images from her hospital bed.

The missile that struck the building was a Kh-22 cruise missile, also known as an X-22 missile, according to Hanna Mailar, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defense. Five of these missiles were fired at Ukrainian territory on Saturday, with one hitting the building in Dnipro.

Immediately after the strike on the apartment building, pro-Russian news outlets and influential military bloggers argued that the apartment buildings had been struck by fragments of the missile after Ukrainian air defenses attempted to intercept it.

But Ukrainian forces were quick to deny that, and the evidence from the scene pointed to a direct strike on the building.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine have no weapons capable of shooting down this type of missile,” Ms. Mailar said, adding that since Russia invaded in February, more than 210 missiles of this type have been used in attacks on Ukrainian territory.

The same kind of missile was used on a shopping center in Kremenchuk in June, killing 18 people.

The Soviet-era missiles weigh about 2,000 pounds, can be fired from long distances and are intended for anti-ship operations. They are also capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Ms. Mailar, said the attack showed the need for anti-aircraft missile systems like the Patriot system — which Ukraine has long been lobbying allies for.

Late last month, President Biden said that the United States will supply Ukraine with the Patriot missile system and that Ukrainian forces will begin training on the system in Oklahoma in the coming weeks.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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