The death toll is rising after Russia’s rocket attack on a home in Ukraine over the weekend

Rescuers yesterday pulled more bodies and some survivors from an apartment building destroyed by a missile attack that killed 24 people in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, while a Russian bombardment killed at least three in the second largest city, Kharkiv.

The civilian death toll highlighted the human cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its fifth month, as European capitals braced for further economic fallout as supplies of Russian gas were called into question and sanctions on Moscow cut trade disturbed.

In the town of Chasiv Yar on Saturday, rescuers made voice contact with two people in the rubble of the five-story apartment building that was destroyed by a rocket, and rescue services released video of workers pulling survivors from the concrete rubble, where up to two dozen people were were trapped.

But the death toll also rose steadily as rescuers dug, the state emergency services said.

A Reuters reporter saw rescuers lift a person from the ruins onto a stretcher and carry away two bodies in white sacks. Nine people have been rescued so far, the emergency services said.

In yesterday’s attack on Kharkiv, further north, 31 people were injured, including two children, in addition to the three deaths, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said. At least one strike hit an apartment building in the city, pictures show.

“I started screaming, ‘I’m alive, please get me out!'” said Valentina Popovichuk, who said she fell asleep when her building was hit three or four times in the early hours of the morning.

The attack on Khasiv Yar in Donetsk province was part of Russia’s push to seize the entire eastern industrial Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by Separatist proxies since 2014, after declaring victory in Luhansk province earlier this month.

Military experts say Russia is using artillery fire to pave the way for a renewed push for territory by ground forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin – who says he wants to hand over control of the Donbass to the separatists – yesterday eased the rules for Ukrainians to acquire Russian citizenship.

Kharkiv to the north-east, near the Russian border but outside the Donbass, was heavily bombed during the first months of the war, followed by a relative calm that has been shattered by renewed shelling in recent weeks.

Moscow denies attacking civilians, but many Ukrainian towns and villages lie in ruins. Since the February 24 invasion, attacks on a theatre, a shopping center and a train station have claimed many civilian lives.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia had carried out 34 airstrikes since Saturday, while his chief of staff Andriy Yermak said Moscow should be labeled a state sponsor of terrorism over the apartment bombing.

Dazed residents in Chasiv Yar recovered personal belongings and told stories of their escape.

One survivor, who gave her name Venera, said she wanted to save her two kittens.

“I was thrown in the bathroom, it was all a mess, I was in shock, there was blood all over,” she said. “I never found the kittens,” she added.

The war has exposed diplomatic fault lines across Europe and has pushed up energy and food prices.

Lithuania imposed another phase of EU sanctions on Russia and yesterday extended trade restrictions through its sovereign territory to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea coast.

Europe’s dependence on Russian energy worried politicians and the business community as the largest pipeline carrying Russian gas to Germany began its 10-day annual maintenance. Governments, markets and businesses fear the war-related shutdown could be extended.

Ukraine’s General Staff yesterday said Russia had launched a wave of bombings as they try to seize Donetsk, the other province in the Donbass, after capturing Luhansk.

It added that the widespread shelling was tantamount to preparations for an intensification of hostilities from Moscow. The death toll is rising after Russia’s rocket attack on a home in Ukraine over the weekend

Fry Electronics Team

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