At least six people have been killed in Russian attacks on the city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the past day, the head of the regional military administration said Saturday.
The dead include two people sheltering in a school basement, Serhiy Hayday said, adding that three people had also been wounded when Russians fired on the school.
"Two people died on the spot, three more were hospitalized. Two killed and one wounded are members of the same family," Hayday said in a statement on Telegram.
Residents of Severodonetsk had been hiding since the beginning of the war, according to Hayday.
Two women were killed by Russian shelling in Lysychansk and Privillia, and a man and a woman died near their house in Severodonetsk, he said, without specifying how they died.
The Russians "have thrown all their forces and efforts into the assault on Severodonetsk and cutting off the Lysychansk-Bakhmut route, so that we can’t evacuate people, deliver the humanitarian aid or deliver any supplies or ammunition to our defenders," the official added.
Luhansk is one of two regions of Ukraine that has been partly controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014, along with Donetsk. The latest phase of the Russian invasion includes attempts to take full control of the regions.
"Fighting is currently taking place on the outskirts of Severodonetsk," Hayday said, asserting that Ukrainian forces had repulsed 11 enemy attacks. He said Ukrainian defenders had destroyed Russian tanks, artillery systems and combat vehicles in the fighting, and shot down two Russian drones.
A cooling tower at the Azot nitrogen ammonia plant in Severodonetsk caught fire during a Russian attack, Hayday said, but the fire was extinguished and did not spread.
He said about 1,000 people were in the plant’s bomb shelters, and said authorities have tried to provide these people with everything needed: Generators, water and humanitarian aid.
"Thank God, there are not many chemical substances there, as Azot was not working to its full capacity, as it used to during Soviet times. But anyway there are the remnants of chemicals, which are hazardous and highly explosive," he warned.