Russia blames Ukraine as Belgorod apartments collapse after blast

Russia is blaming a Ukrainian strike after an entire section of an apartment building collapsed following an explosion in Belgorod.

CCTV from the scene shows a large blast near the base of the 10-storey block and then the building falling in.

The regional governor said two bodies had been pulled from the rubble. At least 19 people have been injured.

The Russian city is near the border with Kharkiv in Ukraine, where Moscow's troops launched an offensive on Friday.

The Belgorod region has often been targeted by Ukrainian forces since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, but previously Ukrainian officials have said cross-border strikes do not target civilians.

'He could not escape'

The regional governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, accused Ukraine of bombarding the region, describing the cause of the explosion as a Ukrainian shell.

Kyiv has cast doubt on that account, with one official suggesting it may have been a guided bomb dropped by a Russian plane, intended for Ukraine, but whose glide wings hadn't opened.

Pictures from the scene show rescuers removing debris by hand in a search for survivors. Surrounding apartments have been evacuated due to fears of the main building collapsing further.

Mr Gladkov added that people are believed to be trapped in the rubble.

An apartment block partially collapsed
Firemen search rubble

One resident told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti her husband was in their bedroom in the building when the blast went off and was injured in the head and face. "He did not have the time" to escape, she said.

A spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee said a criminal case has been launched.

The incident comes as "intense battles" continue just across the border in north-eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces have made incursions into the Kharkiv region.

In his evening address on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian offensive has displaced thousands.

"The idea behind the attacks in the Kharkiv region is to stretch our forces and undermine the morale and motivation of the Ukrainians' ability to defend themselves," he added.

The defence ministry in Moscow claims its forces have captured a number of villages there, while Kyiv says it has been carrying out counter-attacks.