60 presumed dead in Ukrainian school bombed by Russia, governor says

60 presumed dead in Ukrainian school bombed by Russia, governor says

  • Luhansk governor says Russia bombed school housing 90 people
  • Trapped civilians evacuated from Azovstal plant in Mariupol
  • G7 leaders to meet with Zelenskiy to show unity

KYIV, May 8 (Reuters) – As many as 60 people were reportedly killed in the Russian shelling of a village school in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, the regional governor said on Sunday.

Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian forces dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the Bilohorivka school where around 90 people had taken refuge, starting a fire that engulfed the building.

“The fire was extinguished after almost four hours, then the rubble was cleared and unfortunately the bodies of two people were found,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

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“Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, including seven injured. Sixty people are likely to have died under the rubble of the buildings.”

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of targeting civilians during the war, which Moscow denies.

In the ruined port city of Mariupol, in the south-east of the country, dozens of civilians were evacuated from a sprawling steel factory during a week-long operation organized by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a late Saturday speech that more than 300 civilians had been rescued from Azovstal steelworks and authorities would now focus on evacuating the injured and medics. Other Ukrainian sources cited different figures.

On Saturday, Russian-backed separatists reported a total of 176 civilians evacuated from the plant.

The Azovstal factory is a last stronghold for Ukrainian forces in the now largely Russian-controlled city, and many civilians had also taken refuge in its underground shelters. It has become a symbol of resistance to Russian efforts to capture swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin describes the invasion he launched on February 24 as a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and its allies say Russia has launched an unprovoked war.

Mariupol is key to blocking Ukrainian exports and linking the Crimean peninsula, seized by Russia in 2014, and parts of the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions that have been controlled by Russian-backed separatists since the same year.

In a moving speech on VE Day on Sunday, as Europe commemorates Germany’s formal surrender to the Allies in World War II, Zelenskiy said evil had returned to Ukraine with the Russian invasion, but that his country would win. Read more

US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders were due to hold a video call with Zelenskiy on Sunday in a show of unity ahead of Monday’s Victory Day celebrations in Russia.

Underlining Western support for Ukraine, Britain pledged an additional £1.3bn ($1.6bn) in military support and aid, double its spending pledges previous ones.

VE Day is a major event in Russia and Putin will lead a parade through Moscow’s Red Square of troops, tanks, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles on Monday, showing military might even as his forces battle in Ukraine .

His speech could offer clues about the future of the war. Russian efforts were hampered by logistical and equipment problems and numerous casualties in the face of fierce resistance. Read more

The director of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, said on Saturday that Putin was convinced that “double our efforts” on the conflict would improve the outcome for Russia.

“He’s in a state of mind that he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose,” Burns said at a Financial Times event in Washington on Saturday.

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in kyiv and at Reuters offices Writing by Michael Perry and Estelle Shirbon Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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