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Russia missile attack on Ukraine’s Odesa kills at least 20 people

Rescuers extinguishing a fire at the site of the missile attack in Odesa on Friday (Ukrainian Emergency Service/AFP)
Rescuers extinguishing a fire at the site of the missile attack in Odesa on Friday (Ukrainian Emergency Service/AFP)

At least 20 people have been killed and more than 70 wounded after Russia on Friday fired missiles at the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa.

In what is known as a “double-tap strike”, local governor Oleh Kiper said a second Iksander-M ballistic missile hit a residential area only moments after it had initially been struck.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia would receive a “fair response” from Ukrainian forces for what he said was a “vile” strike on a city that has been attacked by Russian drones or missiles almost every day this month.

“The Russian missile attack killed a paramedic and a rescue worker who had arrived at the scene after the first explosion to provide assistance,” said Mr Kiper. “There are also heavily injured among the medics and rescuers.”

“The explosion was very strong, especially the second one... This is a very powerful missile that flies from the occupied Crimea in a few minutes,” Mr Kiper added.

Russia has stepped up its strikes on the southern city in recent weeks. The port is a vital hub for Ukrainian grain exports, central to its economic output.

On 2 March, a Russian drone struck a multistorey building in the area, killing 12 people, including five children.

Emergency service workers tend to an injured colleague (Telegram)
Emergency service workers tend to an injured colleague (Telegram)

But the latest attack is the deadliest in weeks in Ukraine.

“Russia continues to terrorise Odesa ... local residents, medical and emergency workers are among the victims and injured,” Andriy Kostin, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, said.

A three-storey recreational facility was destroyed and at least 10 private houses, a low-pressure gas pipeline and rescue vehicles were damaged in the attack, the southern military command said.

Rescuers battled to put out fires on the pipeline and in a private house over a total area of about 120 square metres.

Footage posted online showed both civilians and rescue workers being carried away from the site.

“Today, the Russians hit Odesa with ballistics. And when the rescuers arrived, the Russians struck again,” said Oksana Kovalenko, a Ukrainian journalist.

Mr Kiper announced a day of mourning to be held on Saturday, the second observance in less than two weeks.

Andriy Yermak, Mr Zelensky’s top adviser, described the attacks as a “sign of weakness”.

“The Russian terror of Odesa is a sign of the weakness of the enemy, which is fighting against Ukrainian civilians at a time when it cannot guarantee the safety of people on its own territory,” he said.

An injured rescuer after the missile attack in Odesa on Friday (Ukrainian Emergency Service/AFP)
An injured rescuer after the missile attack in Odesa on Friday (Ukrainian Emergency Service/AFP)

His comments came as Ukrainian officials said on Friday that two Russian border provinces, Belgorod and the neighbouring Kursk region, were under attack by anti-Kremlin Russian armed groups based in Ukraine.

Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that two people had been killed and “very serious damage” inflicted on the village of Kozinka.

Elsewhere Ukrainian drone attacks also damaged a small oil refinery in Russia’s Kaluga region south of Moscow, a Ukrainian intelligence source claimed.

It was the latest in a string of drone attacks on major Russian oil facilities in the last week, trying to target the lifeblood of the Russian economy more than two years after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The attacks occurred against the backdrop of the first day of Russian presidential elections. Millions of Russians headed to polling booths to vote in a sham election that Vladimir Putin will inevitably win.