KYIV, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Russia launched a second wave of missiles at Ukraine on Saturday, hours after morning airstrikes forced people to flee as sirens sounded across the country.
Officials in Mykolaiv, the western city of Lviv and the Black Sea port of Odesa said air defenses were trying to shoot down incoming missiles. Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne reported that an explosion was heard in the central Vynnytsa region.
Moscow, which invaded last February, has been attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing severe blackouts and winter cuts to central heating and running water.
The second attack on Saturday came hours after Reuters journalists heard a series of blasts in Kyiv early in the morning before air raid sirens sounded, which is highly unusual. The extent of damage or casualties from the second wave is still unclear.
No one was injured following the first wave, but missile debris caused a fire at one location and damaged homes outside the capital, officials said.
“An infrastructure facility was affected. There was no major damage or fire. All emergency services are working on site. No one was injured,” Kyiv’s military administration said in a statement.
Ukrainergo, which operates the power grid, said its workers were racing to repair the damage and that the network was struggling with power shortages caused by previous attacks, despite a mild chill of -2 Celsius (28 Fahrenheit) in Kyiv.
DTEK, the largest private power company, introduced emergency blackouts in Kyiv, Kyiv region and Odesa region.
The mayor of Kiev said debris from the missile landed in a non-residential area of Holozivskyi district, west of Kiev, causing a fire but no one was injured.
Residential infrastructure was also affected in the village of Kopiliv in the region outside the capital. The windows and roofs of 18 privately owned houses were broken or damaged by the blasts, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.
Russia’s missiles may have been launched from the north on a high, rotating ballistic trajectory, which would explain why the air raid siren didn’t sound, Air Force spokesman Yuri Ihnat said.
Ukraine was unable to identify and shoot down the ballistic missiles, Ukrainska told Pravda online outlet.
Missiles hit Kargi
Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Sinehupov said two S-300 missiles hit the city in northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border early Saturday.
The attacks affected critical energy infrastructure and industrial facilities in the region’s Kharkiv and Suhuvev districts, he said.
“Our emergency services units and energy personnel are working to eliminate the effects and stabilize the situation with power supplies,” he said.
Saturday’s strikes came as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for control of the small salt-mining town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, which has been the focus of a relentless Russian offensive for days.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of Solatar, a rare victory for Moscow after months of upheaval, but its troops were still fighting in the city.
Reuters could not immediately verify Soledar’s condition.
Written by Tom Balmforth Editing by Angus MacSwan, Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry
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