Russian missiles have struck a civilian convoy heading out of the Ukrainian-occupied city of Zaporizhzhia into nearby Russian-occupied territory, killing at least 23 people, the Ukranian government has revealed.
Photos from Zaporizhzhia showed a road littered with blown-out cars and at least two bodies lying on the ground, as survivors picked their way through the rubble. A witness reported seeing about 12 bodies, four of them in cars, and said a missile had left a crater in the ground near two lines of vehicles at a car market.
The cars were bringing humanitarian aid into Russian-occupied territory when they were struck by multiple missiles early morning Friday, September 30.
Photos show vehicles littered with shrapnel while the windows of the vehicles – mostly cars and three vans, were blown out.
Photos also show that the vehicles were packed with belongings, blankets and suitcases and in one of them, the body of a man was leaned from the driver’s seat into the passenger seat with his left hand still clutching the steering wheel.
A woman who gave her name as Nataliya said she and her husband had been visiting their children in Zaporizhzhia.
‘We were returning to my mother who is 90 years old. We have been spared. Itâs a miracle,’ she said, standing with her husband beside their car’ Reuters reports.
Russia has denied being responsible for the strike, instead blaming it on Ukraine.
Oleksandr Starukh, governor of Zaporizhzhia, wrote on Telegram on Friday:
‘ The enemy launched a rocket attack on a civilian humanitarian convoy on the way out of the regional center.
‘People stood in line to leave for the temporarily occupied territory, to pick up their relatives, to take away aid.
‘Rescuers, medics, and all relevant services are currently working at the site.’
The attack comes ahead of a major speech that Putin will give in the Kremlin today, officially announcing his intention to annex occupied regions of Ukraine to Russia.
At an official ceremony in St George’s Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace today, Putin will preside over a treaty-signing proclaiming the annexation of four regions of Ukraine – the breakaway People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.