15 killed in rocket attack on apartment building in eastern Ukraine

15 killed in rocket attack on apartment building in eastern Ukraine
Rescuers have pulled at least 15 bodies from an apartment building that was hit by Russian rockets in the eastern Ukraine town of Chasiv Yar, with three dozen people estimated to be trapped under rubble.
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An apartment building was hit by Russian missiles in the east Ukraine town of Chasiv Yar, killing at least 15 people [Getty]

Russian rockets hit the eastern Ukraine town of Chasiv Yar, destroying a five-story apartment building and killing at least 15 people, rescuers said on Sunday.

"During the rescue operation, 15 bodies were found at the scene and five people were pulled out of the rubble," alive, the local branch of the Ukrainian emergency service said on Facebook, adding that rescuers were in contact with three people alive under the rubble. 

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, said about three dozen people could be trapped in the rubble. Rescuers have made contact with two people who are under the wreckage, he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Kyrylenko said the town of about 12,000 was hit by Uragan rockets, which are fired from truck-borne systems. Chasiv Yar is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Kramatorsk, a city that is expected to be a major target of Russian forces as they grind westward.

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The Donetsk region is one of two provinces along with Luhansk that make up the Donbas region, where separatist rebels have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014. Last week, Russia captured the city of Lysychansk, the last major stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk.

Russian forces are raising "true hell" in the Donbas, despite assessments they were taking an operational pause, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said on Saturday.

After the seizure of Lysychansk, some analysts predicted Moscow’s troops likely would take some time to rearm and regroup.

But "so far there has been no operational pause announced by the enemy. He is still attacking and shelling our lands with the same intensity as before," Haidai said. He later said the Russian bombardment of Luhansk was suspended because Ukrainian forces had destroyed ammunition depots and barracks used by the Russians.