Slovenia, Ukraine – Russian forces in a “frantic attack” have captured half of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk that is central to Moscow’s efforts to complete control of the Donbass industrial region, the mayor said on Tuesday.
“The city is being ruthlessly destroyed by a block of building,” Oleksandr Stryuk said. He said heavy fighting in the streets continues and artillery shelling threatens the lives of an estimated 13,000 civilians still sheltering in the devastated city, once home to more than 100,000.
A Russian air strike on Severodonetsk hit a tank containing nitric acid at a chemical plant, causing a major leak of fumes, according to Serhiy Haiday, governor of the Luhansk region. He posted a picture of a large cloud hanging over the city and urged residents to stay indoors and wear gas masks or improvised masks.
Hayday said later Tuesday that “most of Severodonetsk” was under Russian control, though he added that heavy fighting was continuing and that the city had not been besieged.
More than 1,500 residents have died of various causes since the Russian invasion, Stryuk said Ukraine In late February. Efforts to evacuate from Severodonetsk were interrupted by the bombing.
“Civilians are dying from direct strikes, split wounds, and under the rubble of destroyed buildings, because most of the population is hiding in basements and shelters,” Strick said.
The electricity was cut off and the people needed water. food “There are food supplies for several more days, but the issue is how to distribute it,” the mayor said.
Severodonetsk is important to Russian efforts to seize Donbass before more Western weapons arrive to bolster Ukraine’s defense. The Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the region for eight years and seized large swathes of territory even before the invasion.
The city, located 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Russian border, is located in an area that is the last Ukrainian government-controlled enclave in the Luhansk region. Donbas consists of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in Donbass remains “extremely difficult” as Russia has put its army’s “maximum fighting force” there.
At least three people were killed and six wounded in a Russian missile attack on the city of Sloviansk, west of Severodonetsk, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. A school was among the many buildings that were damaged.
A crater exploded in the road between two apartment buildings, which were riddled with shrapnel.
The floor and staircase of one of the buildings were stained with blood.
Olina Voitenko, 59, a resident of the area, said she knew of one of the dead, a man whose apartment caught fire in the blast.
Another resident, Mikhailo Samuluk, said the raid took place in the middle of the night. “I was on my couch and suddenly my couch jumped into the air,” he said.
Yuras Kermano reported from Lviv.
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