Two killed and 60 feared dead in Russian bomb attack on Ukraine school

8 May 2022, 09:44 | Updated: 8 May 2022, 15:04

The burning building in the village of Bilohorivka.
The burning building in the village of Bilohorivka. Picture: Luhansk Regional Military-Civil Administration

By Sophie Barnett

At least two people have been killed and 60 more are feared dead after Russian bombs hit a school in eastern Ukraine, officials in Ukraine said.

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Around 90 people were sheltering at a school in the village of Bilohorivka, in Luhansk, which was allegedly bombed by Vladimir Putin's troops.

Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said Russia dropped a bomb on the school on Saturday afternoon, causing a fire that engulfed the building.

Authorities have rescued thirty people from the rubble so far.

Read more: UK pledges extra £1.3bn in military support for Ukraine ahead of G7 meeting

The fire was extinguished after nearly four hours, then the rubble was cleared, and, unfortunately, the bodies of two people were found,” Mr Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“Sixty people were likely to have died under the rubble of buildings.”

Mr Gaidai said rescuers were unable to work through the night due to the threat of new shelling.

The rescue operation was reported to be underway on Sunday morning.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has condemned the attack and said Putin's regime will be held accountable.

She wrote on Twitter: "Horrified by Russia's latest attack on a school in Luhansk, resulting in the deaths of innocent people sheltering from Russian bombardment. Deliberate targeting of civilians & civilian infrastructure amounts to war crimes. We will ensure Putin’s regime is held accountable."

There was no immediate response from Russia following reports.

Emine Dzheppar, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said the attack was "inhumane" and "barbaric".

She shared devastating photos of the destruction on Twitter, with rescuers seen desperately searching through the rubble.

Sir Howard Morrison, the former International Criminal Court (ICC) judge who's been appointed to assist the Ukrainian government, told LBC more than 20 people have been identified as possible defendants of Russian war crimes.

He told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday: "I'm afraid international law doesn't work with lightning speed, but that's because of the enormity of the cases and the extreme difficulty under which the investigators operate.

"This is more difficult than some other cases as it's an ongoing conflict."

He said new incidences are happening every day, and even on an hourly basis, making it "much more complicated" and "more dangerous".

He said it will be months before defendants are brought before the courts.

News of the devastating shelling comes as it was confirmed all women, children and the elderly had been evacuated from a steel mill in Mariupol.

Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Veheshchuk, said: "The president's order has been carried out, all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal.

"This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed."

Russian news agency Tass reported another 50 had been evacuated from the plant on Saturday, following roughly 500 others who were allowed to leave the plant and other parts of the city in recent days.

Meanwhile, in Mariupol, Russian troops were aiming to complete their conquest in time for Victory Day celebrations on Monday,

However, Putin's forces continued to face dogged resistance from defenders within the bunkers beneath the factory.

Ukrainian leaders warned that attacks would only worsen in the lead-up to Victory Day, when Russia celebrates Nazi Germany's defeat in 1945 with military parades.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to want to proclaim some kind of triumph in Ukraine when he addresses the troops in Red Square on Monday.