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Rescuers in Ukraine are searching for survivors after more than 70 soldiers were killed by a Russian air strike on a military base.
An official from the area, Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, shared images on social media of a blown-out building and rescuers searching rubble following the strike which hit on Monday, February 28, at the base in the city of Okhtyrka, located between Kharkiv and the capital, Kyiv, in the Sumy region.
In a Facebook post about the incident, Zhyvytskyy said the attack had killed some local residents and a number of Russian soldiers as well as the members of the Ukrainian military.
LOOK: More than 70 Ukrainian servicemen were killed when Russian troops shelled a military base in the town of Okhtyrka in Ukraine's northeastern Sumy region on Monday, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said on Facebook. | 📷Irina Rybakova/REUTERS pic.twitter.com/Ul4Yl1coEL— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) March 1, 2022
Footage taken shortly after the attack showed thick black smoke rising from the area, with some reports claiming that shells or missiles struck a building which was being used as a base by the military, as well as nearby fuel tanks.
Okhtyrka mayor Pavlo Kuzmenko comments on the events in a post on Facebook, in which he claimed a fuel air explosive had been used in the attack. Per The Guardian, he wrote: 'Again, the enemy is waging a vile war. A fuel-air bomb was dropped on an oil depot, oil tanks were blown up.'
On Monday, the same day as the strike, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said at least 102 civilians are known to have been killed since the start of the invasion on February 24, while 302 have been injured. The real figures, however, are feared to be 'considerably higher', Reuters reports.
The strike comes after western intelligence analysts expressed fears that Russian forces attempting to storm Kyiv and other major cities are being reinforced with weapons capable of inflicting massive casualties after meeting strong resistance from determined Ukrainians.
Two Russian armies, namely the 41st Combined Arms Army (CAA) and the 1st Guards Tank Army, are set to be destined to head for Kyiv as part of an encirclement operation, according to the sources cited by The Independent, who have also expressed concerns that the frustration in failing to take control of the capital may lead Russian president Vladimir Putin to order the use of weapons which could create a huge loss of life.
Such weapons may include TOS-1 thermobaric launchers, BM-21 122mm Grad, BM-21 220mm Uragan, and 300mm Smerch systems, all of which have reportedly been seen moving towards the capital and other cities. These weapons are not typically used for precision strikes, but instead to clear stretches of ground.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
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