More than 30 people have reportedly died in Ukraine after two Russian missiles hit a train station in a Donetsk city where thousands of people were awaiting evacuation.
Ukrainian Railways said dozens of civilians were killed and more than 100 others injured when the projectiles hit the Kramatorsk train station on Friday.
“Two rockets hit the Kramatorsk train station,” the state railway company said in a statement.
“According to operational data, more than 30 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the rocket attack on the Kramatorsk railway station,” she added.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, said thousands of civilians were at the station at the time of the attack.
“The ‘Rashists’ (‘Russian Fascists’) knew very well what they were aiming for and what they wanted: they wanted to sow panic and fear, they wanted to take as many civilians with them as possible,” he said.
In response, Russian state news agency Tass said Eduard Basurin, the commander of the Donetsk separatists, said Ukraine was responsible for the attack.
Images posted online appeared to show several bodies lying next to stacks of luggage.
The attack on the train station comes after Ukrainian authorities urged civilians in the east of the country to flee a predicted surge in Russian bombing. The Kremlin has withdrawn its troops from northern Ukraine and is expected to send many of them to the Donbass region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
“Evacuation! The chances of saving you and your family from Russian death are dwindling every day,” Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk province, said earlier this week.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Moscow has repeatedly denied attacking non-combatants. However, the United Nations estimates that 1,611 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, and notes that the true number is likely much higher.
In the past week, the Ukrainian army has recaptured many towns around Kyiv that had been occupied by Russian troops. Three mass graves were discovered in Bucha, a suburb northwest of the capital. According to the city’s mayor, at least 320 civilians were killed there.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation in the nearby town of Borodyanka was “significantly more terrible” than the atrocities uncovered in Bucha.
The Kremlin has denied committing war crimes in Bucha, claiming the bodies were “planted” by Ukrainian authorities. However, satellite images appear to show dead bodies in the city’s streets during the Russian occupation.