A missile strike on a train station in eastern Ukraine killed dozens on Friday, as civilians raced to evacuate, fearing a looming Russian offensive in the region.
World leaders condemned the attack in Kramatorsk, the capital of Donetsk, with US President Joe Biden accusing Russia of being behind a “horrific atrocity” that the French condemned as a “crime against humanity.”
At least 52 people including five children were killed, the regional government said, while President Volodymyr Zelensky reported 300 wounded, saying the strike showed “evil with no limits”.
Zelensky said the bombing had been reported in Russia before the missiles had even landed and called for “a firm global reaction to this war crime” and more weaponry to counter Moscow’s aggression.
“I am sure that the victory of Ukraine is just a matter of time and I will do everything to reduce this time,” he added.
AFP journalists saw the bodies of at least 30 people under plastic sheets next to the station, amid pools of blood and bags nearby packed with the remains of a large rocket.
Body parts, broken glass and abandoned baggage lay scattered around the station and across the platform.
“I’m looking for my husband. He was here. I can’t reach him,” a woman sobbed, holding her phone to her ear.
Another woman in a state of shock told AFP: “I saw people covered in blood entering the station and bodies everywhere on the ground.”
Russia denied being behind the bombing, which came with European
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Kyiv for talks with Zelensky and to visit the scene of civilian killings in the town of Bucha.
Russia faces “decay” because of ever tougher sanctions and Ukraine had a “European future”, Von der Leyen said at a news conference with Zelensky. Six weeks into President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Moscow has shifted its focus to eastern and southern Ukraine after stiff resistance ended plans to swiftly capture the capital Kyiv.