May 8 (UPI) — Dozens of people are feared to be dead after Russian forces bombed a school being used as a shelter in eastern Ukraine, the government said Sunday.
Sergiy Haidai, the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said in a Telegram post that 60 people sheltering in the basement of the school in the village of Bilohorivka are believed to have died.
“Yesterday, the orcs dropped an air bomb on a school,” Haidai said. “It broke through the roof, the explosion was inside, there was a fire.”
Haidai said that 27 people were rescued and that rescue operations are underway Sunday but crews could not work through the night because of a threat of shelling. He said that about 90 people were inside the building at the time of the attack, and that the school collapsed after the bombing.
Crews were able to put out the fire and are working to disassemble the rubble — in which at least two bodies have already been found.
Haidai added that 11 civilians were trapped in the basement of a two-story building in the nearby village of Shipilove and that “there are chances of salvation.”
“Ukrainian soldiers withdrew from Popasna to stronger positions‼” Haidai said.
Serhiy Bolvinov, a police chief in the Kharkiv region, told CNN that a convoy of civilian cars trying to flee fighting near the city was fired on by Russian forces leaving at least four people dead, including a 13-year-old girl.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday that it estimated at least 3,309 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, including 234 children. Another 330 children have been injured.
“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and airstrikes,” the OHCHR said.
“OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Sunday that the “Russian enemy does not stop conducting offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land corridor between these territories and the occupied Crimea.”
The situation in several areas with significant fighting have remained without significant changes, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.
Russian forces have continued to block Ukrainian troops in the area of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where all women, children and the elderly had been evacuated on Saturday.
The last of the Ukrainian fighters in a bunker beneath the steel plan held a televised press conference Sunday and said Russian troops continue their constant assault.
“We don’t have much time, we are under constant shelling, so we need to begin,” said Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of the Azov regiment defending the plant, according to a translation from The New York Times.
Near Izium, a strategic city in the Donetsk oblast of Ukraine, Russian troops have concentrated their main efforts “on preparations for the continuation of the offensive” in Donbas region, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.