Russian airstrikes have hit a school in the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv, partially destroying the building, according to the mayor and multiple witnesses.
Video and photographs from the site showed smoke rising from piles of rubble and scattered lumps of concrete.
Serhiy Sukhomlyn, Zhytomyr’s mayor, said in a video address that the school had been hit by a “missile or a bomb” and that “half of school was ruined”.
“The information on casualties will be released later… rescue operations are underway,” he said, according to UkrInform.
Lithuanian politician Virginijus Sinkevicius, who is serving as the European commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries, tweeted that the wrecked building had been his wife’s first school.
“Destroyed 30 minutes ago,” he wrote on Friday morning. “Russia destroys lifes and memories [sic]. Russia punishes people for taking European path. The path of freedom and dignity.”
Reports on social media said it was “School no 25” which had been hit.
Images showed one end of the building levelled to the ground, surrounded by twisted metal and folded concrete.
Windows were blown out and part of the roof was missing, while the entrance had been severely damaged. What appeared to be school books were visible in the rubble.
There was no immediate confirmation of deaths or injuries.
Emergency services and the Ukrainian army were on site to extinguish a fire and secure the building.
One person posted on Twitter what they said was a message from a friend based in Zhytomyr.
“This is my school. The place where I fell in love with maths. The place where teachers put values into their students to believe in themselves, to keep going and to always give their best. I promise we will rebuild a better school,” the tweet read.
Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko wrote: “Not a military unit, not even a cadet academy. Just a school. Children are not weapons or soldiers.”
Olexander Scherba, Ukraine’s ambassador to Austria from 2014-2021, shared video of the wreckage with the words: “This used to be Zhytomyr’s school #25. They are stopping at nothing. #PutinWarCrimes #PutinHitler.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials have accused the Russian military of indiscriminately shelling residential buildings, schools and hospitals around the country.
The Russians are believed to be using Iskander missile systems to bombard Ukrainian cities, including Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chernihiv. It was not immediately clear what weapons had been used against the school in Zhytomyr.
Dozens of children have been killed and more have been injured during the Vladimir Putin-ordered invasion of Ukraine, which entered its ninth day on Friday with more attacks on cities around the country.
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