Seven killed, scores wounded in Russian missile strike on Ukraine’s Chernihiv

CHERNIHIV, Ukraine, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Seven people including a 6-year-old child were killed, at least 129 wounded, and 41 were in hospital after a Russian missile struck a central square in the historic northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said.

“A Russian missile hit right in the centre of the city, in our Chernihiv. A square, the polytechnic university, a theatre,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was on a visit to Sweden, posted on Telegram messaging app.

“An ordinary Saturday, which Russia turned into a day of pain and loss,” he added of the strike on Chernihiv, a city of leafy boulevards and centuries-old churches about 145 km (90 miles) north of the capital Kyiv.

Of the 129 counted as wounded in the search and rescue operation, 15 were children and 15 were police officers, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram. Regional governor Viacheslav Chaus said later on Telegram that 140 people had sought medical help and 41 were in hospital.

Debris was scattered across a square in front of the damaged theatre and surrounding buildings, where parked vehicles were heavily damaged. A 63-year-old who only gave her first name, Valentyna, showed the damaged balcony in her apartment opposite the theatre.

“It is horrific. Horrific. There were wounded, ambulances and broken glass in here. Nightmare. Just nightmare,” she said.

The roof of the neoclassical theatre was torn off by the strike.

Russia has attacked Ukrainian cities far from the frontline with missiles and drones as part of the full-scale invasion that began in February 2022.

People leaving church after marking a religious holiday and others passing by were among those hurt when the missile hit the theatre, where a meeting was taking place, Chaus said.

Law enforcement agencies were looking into how Russians became aware of the event, which he said included business and community representatives but Ukrainian media reported involved drone manufacturers. Both sides have widely used drones on the battlefield.

An event organizer said all the participants, including engineers, members of the military and volunteers, were asked to go to an air raid shelter in the theatre when the alarm sounded, but some people went outside.

“All those who took shelter remained safe,” Maria Berlinska, a co-founder of the Dignitas Fund, whose fundraising includes money for drones for the frontline, said in a Facebook post.

A wounded woman said her friend pulled her out of one of the damaged buildings after a part of the ceiling fell on her head.

The streets were stained with blood trails and strewn with scraps from first-aid supplies that had been used to treat the wounded.

Kyiv’s air force said early on Saturday the Ukrainian military had shot down 15 out of 17 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Moscow in an overnight strike.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday it had destroyed a Ukrainian drone in the Belgorod region and jammed another near Moscow. A third struck a military airfield in the Novgorod region, damaging a warplane, it also said.

Additional reporting and writing by Dan Peleschuk and Nick Starkov in Kyiv and Elaine Monaghan in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry, Alison Williams and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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