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Bodies Pile Up in Donetsk Morgue as Ukraine Ceasefire Continues to Crumble

Officials in Donetsk reported at least 20 deaths over the last two days, while the European Union expressed concern that the ceasefire had been broken.
Photo by Darko Vojinovic/AP

As fighting rages around eastern Ukraine despite a tenuous ceasefire agreement between Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government, bodies continue to pile up in the morgues of Donetsk, with officials reporting at least 20 deaths over the last two days, according to Russian media.

At least 11 civilians were among those killed in the latest round of fighting, Dmitry Kalashnikov, the head of Donetsk's main morgue, told Russia Today, an outlet that is sympathetic to Russian foreign policy.


"Twenty bodies have arrived at the morgue over the past 24 hours. Among them are 11 civilians, who were killed by shell explosions. I find it hard to call this a ceasefire," Kalashnikov said. "Last week there were many civilian deaths, and I'm not even counting the soldiers."

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The rising number of civilian fatalities came over the weekend amid reports of heavy fighting between separatists and Ukrainian forces for control over the Donetsk airport.

The Ukrainian military confirmed that rebels had launched a fresh offensive to seize Ukraine's second-largest airport, which is located on the outskirts of the restive city.

Video uploaded to social media depicts large plumes of thick black smoke rising from fires seething among shattered buildings in the area.

This video is described as showing the aftermath of the shelling on Donetsk airport.

Unconfirmed reports from two Ukrainian security forces spokespeople suggest that at least one, possibly two servicemen were killed, and up to three injured during the airport raid, Russian media reported.

A Ukraine Crisis Media Center spokesman told reporters at a press conference it was concerned over the continued and "systematic violations" of the September 5 truce, which is still officially in place despite the ongoing fighting. The spokesman cited numerous attacks during the week, including the shelling of a school and bus, which left at least 10 dead.


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On Saturday, a gruesome video was also released showing the aftermath of a shelling attack in Donetsk Thursday, which killed 38-year-old Swiss Red Cross Worker Laurent DuPasquier.


An overnight shelling attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk left one Swiss aid worker dead on Oct. 2.

The EU has finally admitted that the peace agreement, signed early last month by Kiev, Ukrainian separatists, and Moscow, may have been breached, but at the same time called for continued adherence to the truce's terms, Russian media reported.

"We are worried that the truce has been breached. We count on the truce to be respected because it is a necessary condition allowing the peace process to move forward, the OSCE and the Red Cross employees to work there," Soren Liborius, the head of EU information department said, according to RT.

Clashes resumed in Donetsk pre-dawn Saturday, with residents awaking to gunfire and single booms of heavy artillery throughout the early morning, the Donestk Mayor's Office said in a statement. The situation reportedly remained "restless" in the afternoon.

The UN estimates more than 3,000 people have been killed since violence ignited in the region in April, while up to a million have fled their homes.

International Red Cross worker killed in Ukraine as battle for Donetsk airport heats up. Read more here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields