A Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday, raising fears of a devastating death toll.
Dmytro Lunin, the governor of Poltava oblast, in which Kremenchuk is based, said that 10 people had been killed in the attack. The death toll is expected to rise. He denounced the attack as a “war crime” and “crime against humanity,” calling it a “cynical act of terror against the civilian population.”
Footage from the scene of the attack panicked shoppers in the car park as huge plumes of dark smoke billowed from the destroyed building.
Zelenskyy said that more than 1,000 people were inside the mall, in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, at the time of the strike, which happened just before 4 PM local time (9 AM. ET).
“The occupiers fired rockets at the mall, where there were more than a thousand civilians,” he posted on the messaging app Telegram, along with a video of the horrific scene.
“The mall is on fire, rescuers are fighting the fire, the number of victims is impossible to imagine.”
He said the shopping centre had no relevance as a military target.
“No danger to the Russian army. No strategic value. Only the attempt of people to live a normal life, which so angers the occupiers,” he wrote.
Footage circulated on social media appeared to show a man attempting to escape the destroyed mall, running through blinding smoke and over floors covered with debris, before making it to the safety of the carpark outside.
Other footage from the scene showed a patient being carried on a stretcher into an ambulance, and territorial guards working with emergency services to clear debris from the attack.
Earlier, Kremenchuk’s mayor Vitaliy Meletskiy posted on Facebook that he was at the scene of a Russian strike on a “very crowded” place in the city, and that there were deaths and injuries, although he provided no details of the casualties.
Kremenchuk, an industrial city on the banks of the Dnipro River, had a population of about 220,000 prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The city is home to Ukraine's biggest oil refinery, which has repeatedly come under attack during the invasion.