At least 39 people were killed in a rocket attack on a railway station in eastern Ukraine on Friday, authorities said.
Two Russian rockets struck the train station in the city of Kramatorsk in Donetsk Oblast on Friday morning, according to Ukraine’s state-owned railway company, which in a statement via Facebook called the attack “a purposeful strike on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of the city of Kramatorsk.”
By Friday afternoon, Donetsk Oblast Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko confirmed that the death toll had risen from 30 to 39. He said in a statement via Telegram that another 87 were wounded, many seriously. The number of injured was down from earlier estimates of more than 100.
The attack occurred as “thousands” of civilians fleeing the Russian invasion were at the train station waiting to be taken to “safer regions of Ukraine,” according to Kyrylenko, who accused Russian forces of “deliberately trying to disrupt the evacuation of civilians.”
“The evacuation will continue,” the governor added. “Anyone who wants to leave the region will be able to do so.”
Graphic images provided by Ukrainian officials showed the aftermath of the attack — bodies lying on the ground next to scattered luggage and debris, with charred vehicles parked nearby. The remains of a large rocket with the words “for our children” in Russian painted on the side was also seen on the ground next to the main building of the station.
Earlier this week, large crowds of people were seen waiting on the platform to board trains at the Kramatorsk railway station as they fled the city in Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region.
Since 2014, Russia-backed separatist forces have controlled two breakaway republics of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the Donbas. The separatists have been fighting alongside Russian troops to sixteen more territory there, after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Now, the Russian military is said to be refocusing its offensive in the Donbas as it withdraws its troops from northern Ukraine.