At least two people were killed and 22 wounded in a Russian rocket strike that hit a restaurant in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, Interior Minister Igor Klymenko announced on Tuesday.
At least two people have been killed and 22 were wounded in a Russian rocket strike that hit a restaurant in the city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, Interior Minister Igor Klymenko announced on Tuesday.
“Two people died and 22 were injured, including a child. A restaurant and several houses were damaged,” Klymenko said on Telegram, adding that other victims may still be under the rubble.
Near the restaurant, several apartment buildings were also hit, shattering their windows.
A 19-year-old Ukrainian soldier answering to the nom de guerre “Phantom” was nearby when the strike took place. His hands are still covered in dust.
“The guys told me they heard a plane flying. There was a whistle and then an explosion,” he tells AFP.
He then went into the restaurant to help. “There was a girl trapped, she was injured. They haven’t got her out yet”, he continues.
Yevgen was dining in a popular restaurant in the city when a rocket hit the establishment.
“There are a lot of people down there. There are children under the debris,” he told AFP, clearly still in shock after the explosion that hit the Ria Pizza early on Tuesday evening.
Yevgen and two of his friends managed to get out of the gutted restaurant, but another is still inside. “We were about to leave, but he’s under the debris”, he explains.
In front of the restaurant’s destroyed facade, with its interior still partially ablaze, a crowd of civilians gathered alongside soldiers, rescue workers, the town’s mayor and the governor.
According to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, two rockets were fired at the city of 150,000 inhabitants, the last major Ukrainian-controlled agglomeration in the east, some 30 km from the front line.
Ruslan, a 32-year-old chef, confirms that there were “quite a few people” there at the time of the strike. “I arrived, I was standing there and it buried me”, he says, before pointing to the sky: “I was lucky”.
Natalia, a woman standing outside the building, says that her half-brother, Nikita, 23, is still inside.
“They can’t get him out (of the debris), he was covered. Tiles fell on him,” she says, weeping.
Located to the west of Bakhmut, the devastated city that was the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle of the war, Kramatorsk has been repeatedly targeted by Russian bombing raids.
The deadliest was the bombing of the Kramatorsk railway station in April 2022, a few weeks after the start of the Russian invasion and just as crowds of civilians were trying to leave the city.
The strike left 61 of the 4,000 or so civilians dead and over 160 wounded, a tragedy that deeply traumatized the population. Moscow, for its part, denied any involvement.
A major rail hub, Kramatorsk is also home to military installations. It has been the de facto regional capital since the eastern cities of Donetsk and Lugansk were captured by Moscow-backed pro-Russian separatists in 2014.