Russian missile strike sets houses ablaze in Ukraine's Kharkiv, officials say

By Vitalii Hnidyi

KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) -A Russian missile attack on Ukraine's northeastern city of Kharkiv injured two people and set three houses on fire in the early hours of Friday, local officials said.

Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, which lies just 30 km from the Russian border, is particularly exposed to aerial attacks and has been badly damaged as Moscow has stepped up its airstrikes in recent months.

Two people, including an 11-year-old child, were shell-shocked, Governor Oleh Syniehubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov said an S-300 missile crashed into the city, damaging 26 buildings, destroying two of them completely. He did not clarify what those buildings were.

A Reuters cameraman at the scene saw fires raging in what appeared to be residential homes at dawn. The emergency services raced to put out the fires, working among the rubble.

Russia launched two S-300/S-400 missiles at the region overnight, Ukrainian air force spokesperson Illya Yevlash said in a television broadcast. It was unclear where the second one landed.

Another guided bomb attack damaged around 25 buildings when it landed near an infrastructure facility in the town of Derhachi near the Russian border, Syniehubov said.

Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion more than two years ago, stepped up the intensity of its missile and drone attacks on Ukraine in March this year.

Electricity infrastructure has been badly damaged, forcing authorities to introduce rolling blackouts in Kharkiv and the surrounding region, raising fears about what lies in store when energy consumption rises later this year.

In the southern regions, the air force intercepted all 10 drones fired by Russia at the regions of Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kherson.

Moscow denies targeting civilians in its attacks on Ukraine, but hundreds of civilians have died.

It says its strikes on the power grid are legitimate and has cast several major recent strikes as retaliation for Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian oil refineries.

(Reporting by Vitalii Hnidyi in Kharkiv, Anastasiia Malenko in Kyiv and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Ros Russell)