Dnipro reels from deadly Russian missile strike

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Dnipro, Ukraine

In Dnipro, there is grief, exhaustion and anger.

Early on Saturday afternoon, as families relaxed at home in the central Ukrainian city, a Russian cruise missile struck a nine-story apartment building overlooking a park near the river, killing at least 30 people.

The core of that building is now gone, transformed into a mountain of jumbled concrete. Apartments were sliced in half when the missile – with a warhead of nearly one metric ton – penetrated all the way to the basement.

Svitlana Lishchynska, who lives in a neighboring building, said the impact shook everything from the walls of her home.

“At the same moment, my daughter, who had gone for a walk with her friend, called and told me about the loud explosions. I ran to her. The closer I got, the more it looked like hell,” she said.

“When I got there, I froze – the two entrances simply did not exist anymore. They had turned into a pile of concrete and a gaping hole. It was a picture of the apocalypse. Everyone was in a kind of stupor, because it was impossible to believe that this was happening to us.”

Some 36 hours after the strike, smoke was still drifting into the frozen air as heat was released from its impact. Rescue crews clambered over the debris, their hopes of finding anyone else alive dimming by the hour.

Up to 40 people remain unaccounted for, according to Ukrainian officials. The last person to be rescued was heard calling out soon after midnight on Saturday. It took nine hours to reach her, by which time she had severe hypothermia.

Rescue missions in the aftermath of a Russian strike on an apartment building in Dnipro on January 15, 2023.

Small groups of people stood quietly behind a cordon on Sunday night, some still holding out hope for a miracle, others clutching flowers or lighting candles. A few wiped away tears, as they watched bulldozers grapple with sheets of concrete and twisted steel.

Above them, on the fifth floor, firefighters perilously swept loose wreckage from someone’s living room. Shredded curtains flapped in the wind.

On the top floor, half a kitchen teetered on the edge of the void. Not so long ago, a birthday party was held for one of the children living there, the occasion captured in an Instagram post. Their father, a well-known boxing coach, was killed in the attack.

Olha Nevenchanaya said she had passed by the building only about half an hour before it was hit. “There are many friends and people close to me here. Many, many …,” she said, before breaking down.

More than 30 people remain in hospital – 12 of them are in serious condition, according to Natalia Babachenko, adviser to the head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration. A 9-year-old girl is among those seriously injured.

Most of the injured were taken to Mechanikova hospital, where the head doctor, Serhii Ryzchenko, said people arrived covered in blood and dust, their clothes torn. Scraps of metal and concrete were embedded in every part of their bodies.

Amid the despair, however, there were also moments of joy. A soldier serving in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, Maksim Omelianenko, raced to Dnipro to find out if his mother was still alive.

“I learn that, most likely by some miracle, my mother survived, in a piece of the kitchen, the only surviving part of my apartment on the 9th floor, trapped beneath the stove,” he posted on Instagram.

The Russian missile fired at the apartment block in Dnipro was a Kh-22, according to the Ukrainian military.

The missile that hit the building was a Kh-22, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The Ukrainian military says it lacks the capability to bring down such missiles, which were designed to sink ships, not obliterate apartment buildings.

The Kh-22 was designed in the Soviet era and is notoriously inaccurate. Even so, there are no military or infrastructure targets within several hundred meters of the building that was destroyed.

More than 200 Kh-22s have been launched against Ukraine since the invasion started, the military says. One hit a shopping center in nearby Kremenchuk last September, killing at least 18 people.

The apartment building stood on Naberezhna Peremohy – the Embankment of Victory – named for the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

“When they gave this name to this street, they had in mind the victory over the Nazis in the Second World War,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday. “And we must do everything we can to stop Ruscism, just as the free world once stopped Nazism.”

Now the building at 118 Naberezhna Peremohy will be remembered in Dnipro as a symbol of another war.

Standing outside on Sunday, stunned by the scale of the destruction, Dnipro resident Olena Loyan cursed the Russians.

“I simply hate them,” she said. “Children, people, died.”

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