Ukraine invasion: 18 killed in Russian rocket attack on apartment block

Ukraine invasion: 18 killed in Russian rocket attack on apartment block
The death toll from a devastating Russian rocket attack on a five-storey building in the town of Chasiv Yar in Ukraine's Donetsk region has climbed to 18.
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President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said the attack was 'another terrorist attack' [source: Getty]

The death toll from a Russian rocket attack that hit an apartment block in eastern Ukraine over the weekend rose to 18 on Monday and rescuers were still racing to reach survivors in the rubble, the emergency services said.

Rescuers were in voice contact with two people trapped in the ruins of the five-storey block in the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk region that was struck late on Saturday, the service said.

"As of 08:45 on July 11, ... 18 people were killed, 6 people were rescued from the rubble, about 137 tonnes of rubble were cleared...," it said.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in what it calls a special military operation, denies targeting civilians. 

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says there has been no let-up in Russian attacks on his country with 34 air raids conducted in the 24 hours from Sunday night. 

Russia abandoned an early advance on the capital Kyiv in the face of fierce resistance bolstered by Western arms.

Its military campaign is now focused the south and the eastern Donbas region, which is made up of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. The Kremlin wants to hand control of this industrial heartland to pro-Russian separatists who have declared independence from Kyiv.

Russian forces attacked Ukrainian positions near the town of Sloviansk in Donetsk but were forced to withdraw, Ukraine's military said on Sunday.

Luhansk region Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian forces were gathering near the village of Bilohorivka, about 50 km (30 miles) east of Sloviansk.

Russia is "shelling the surrounding settlements, carrying out air strikes, but it is still unable to quickly occupy the entire Luhansk region," he said on Telegram.

Russia claimed control over all of Luhansk province last weekend.