According to official information, Russia launched a new missile attack on targets across Ukraine, killing at least 12 people east of Dnipro and causing power outages in Kyiv and Kharkiv regions.
Saturday’s attacks destroyed a nine-story apartment building in Dnipro, reducing the entire building to rubble and sending smoke into the sky. According to officials, a 15-year-old girl was among the dead.
Another 64 people were injured.
“Tragedy!” Boris Filatov, the mayor of the rocket-making city along the Dnieper River, said.
“I entered the site. … We will go through the ruins all night.”
Photos from the scene show firefighters putting out flames around some of the wreckage of some cars in Dnipro. A large part of the apartment building was destroyed, and the exterior of the remaining building was badly damaged.
Ukrainian media reported that the trapped residents were showing their location under the rubble with the torches of their cell phones.
“They are sending SMS messages,” Dnipro Deputy Mayor Mikhail Lysenko said in a video on the social network. “We will stop our work now to be silent and listen to the screams of the people under the rubble.”
According to Oblast Governor Valentyn Reznichenko, among the injured are seven children, the youngest of whom is three years old.
“The fate of 26 people is still unknown,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that it is not yet known how many people are under the ruins.
“Unfortunately, the death toll is increasing every hour,” he said in a late-night address.
Apart from Dnipro, other cities on Saturday included Odesa in the south, Kharkiv in the east, Lviv in the west and the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Civilian infrastructure, including power grids, was once again damaged and power was cut off.
Energy Minister Herman Galushchenko said that emergency shutdowns were introduced in “most regions” of Ukraine on Saturday due to the raids.
He warned that the coming days would be “difficult”.
According to officials, the Kharkiv region will be completely without electricity, and Lviv may also experience a disruption in electricity and water supply.
Russia has targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, disrupting electricity, central heating and water.
Military commander Valery Zaluzhny said that Russia launched a total of 33 cruise missiles on Saturday, 21 of which were shot down.
Britain promised tanks
Ukraine’s southwestern neighbor, Moldova, said it had found missile remnants in its territory following recent Russian raids.
“Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine is again directly affecting Moldova,” President Maia Sandu wrote on Twitter, posting photos of the ruins.
“We strongly condemn today’s escalation of attacks.”
In his late-night speech, Zelensky called on the West to supply more weapons to prevent deaths from what he called “Russian terror.”
“What is needed for this?” The kind of weapons that our partners have in stock and our soldiers are waiting for. “The whole world knows what and how to stop those who sow death,” he said.
Saturday’s attack comes as Western powers consider sending heavy weapons to Kiev and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies next Friday in Ramstein, Germany, where the governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.
Britain on Saturday became the first Western country to pledge heavy tanks for the war effort, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying his country would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Sunak’s office said the British prime minister believed “a long and static war would only serve Russia’s interests.”
“UK defense and security officials believe that a window has opened that Russia has been lagging behind due to resupply issues and declining morale,” the statement said. “The Prime Minister therefore urges allies to deploy their planned support for 2023 as quickly as possible to achieve maximum impact.”
Saturday’s attacks came as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for control of Soledar, a small town in eastern Ukraine that has been the focus of a sustained Russian offensive for several days.
The capture of Soledar, which had a pre-war population of 10,000, could improve the position of Russian troops as they push towards the nearby transport junction of Bakhmut, their main target since October.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had captured the city, but Ukraine denied the claim.
As Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reports from nearby Soledar, there are no clear signs that Ukraine will leave the city.
“Russia says it has full control of Soledar, but smoke billowing from the hit sites, almost constant artillery fire and heavy machine-gun fire suggest otherwise,” he said.
According to Stratford, along the streets leading to Soledar, army doctors were waiting to take the wounded to hospitals far from the front. Ukrainian armored personnel carriers are seen carrying troops into the city, and tree lines are packed with artillery in defensive positions.
A soldier asked for a better weapon.
“It will be difficult for us to push them back,” he told Al Jazeera. “We will suffer huge losses. There are so many of them that sometimes our old guns overheat when we try to shoot as many as possible.’
Turkey said on Saturday it was ready for a local ceasefire in Ukraine, warning that neither Moscow nor Kiev had the military capacity to “win the war”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalyn, has admitted that it is unlikely that the warring parties will be ready to conclude a “general peace agreement” in the coming months.