- Written by Maynie Jones and James Gregory
- in Kyiv and London
Ukrainian officials said Russian missiles hit the center of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, killing four people and injuring many more.
A restaurant and shopping district were hit in a strike on Tuesday in the city, which is under Ukrainian control but close to Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
People may be trapped under the rubble and a rescue operation is underway.
An eyewitness told the BBC that he saw “dead people, people screaming, people crying, total chaos”.
It was reported that a 17-year-old girl was among those killed in the attack, which took place around 19:30 local time (16:30 GMT).
Officials said there were also residential buildings at the epicenter of the explosion.
Footage on social media and drones from the scene show significant damage to buildings, some of which have been reduced to rubble.
Belgian freelance journalist Arnaud De Decker told BBC News he was at the popular Ria Lounge minutes before it was bombed.
“There are still people under the rubble because it is a big restaurant,” he said.
“Now I can hear people screaming under the rubble as rescuers try to save them.”
He estimated that up to 80 employees and customers were on the premises of the restaurant at the time of the strike, so he feared that the number of casualties was “serious”.
Officials say at least 40 people have been injured, including an eight-month-old baby and three foreigners.
A rescue operation is underway in the city center as security services are assisting emergency services at the scene and evacuating the victims.
Local authorities say there was a high concentration of civilians in the area when the rockets landed.
“This is the city centre. Public dining areas were crowded with civilians,” the region’s governor, Pavlo Kirilenko, told Ukrainian television.
De Dekker described the restaurant as a local “gathering center” that was also popular with soldiers, journalists and volunteers.
The Kramatorsk city council said Russian forces had also targeted a nearby village.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack proved to Ukraine and the world that Russia deserved “only defeat and trial, fair and legal courts against all Russian murderers and terrorists”.
The White House has condemned Russia for its “brutal strikes” on Ukraine.
Kramatorsk has often been targeted by missiles since the invasion began in February 2022.
The city of 150,000 is one of the largest still under Ukrainian control in the embattled east. It is located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the front line.
This latest attack comes as Zelensky said the Ukrainian counter-offensive is advancing on all fronts.
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”