Rescue work suspended in Dnipro, with 20 people still missing

Emergency forces have suspended the search for missing people after a Russian missile hit a high-rise residential building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

Twenty people were still missing, the civil defence force said on Tuesday.

“The chances of finding anyone are unfortunately tending towards zero,” Mayor Borys Filatov said.

It was possible that some bodies were so disfigured by fire and collapsing parts of houses that they were hard to find, he said.

Since the attack on Saturday, 45 bodies have been recovered in the large city in the central Ukrainian region of Dnipropetrovsk, including six children.

About 80 people were injured. There are still 28 injured people in hospital, many of them in critical condition.

More than 230 flats in the nine-storey building were destroyed.

The attack on Dnipro was the most serious of several assaults on Saturday.

The strikes were one of the most devastating attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure to date, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday.

Nine sections of thermal power plants as well as three substations and a high-voltage power line were hit, Shmyhal said.

Of the thermal plants hit, eight were in the western region and one in the east.

This resulted in emergency shutdowns due to lower power levels.

“Nevertheless, the power system has withstood, remains coherent and can be controlled,” Shmyhal stressed.

Repair work was going on around the clock, he added.

In Moscow, several people were arrested while trying to lay flowers in memory of those killed in Dnipro, according to civil rights activists.

A total of four arrests were made in the centre of the Russian capital on Tuesday evening, the civil rights organisation OVD-Info reported.

Public anti-war actions have become very rare in Russia in the face of massive repression.

For months, there have hardly been any major protests against the invasion of the neighbouring country ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin almost 11 months ago.

Meanwhile, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited the battle zone in Ukraine to get an overview of the situation and to award soldiers for their war service, his ministry said.

“Do everything to bring the day of victory closer,” he was quoted as saying.

“I am convinced that we are doing everything for that day to come,” he said.

Ukraine believes Russia is currently preparing a new offensive after a series of defeats.

Also on Tuesday, NATO transferred several of its Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance jets normally stationed in Germany to Ukraine’s neighbouring country Romania, the Romanian Defence Ministry has said.

The aircraft arrived on schedule at Otopeni air base near Bucharest on Tuesday, the ministry said.

“Romania and the allies are safe,” Defence Minister Angel Tîlvăr wrote on Facebook.

The Netherlands wants to provide Ukraine with the Patriot air defence system, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday during a visit to U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington.

It was important for the Netherlands to be involved in the delivery of the Patriots, Rutte said.

He had also discussed this with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday.

In total, Rutte announced further aid from his country for Ukraine of €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion).

Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke again on the phone on Tuesday, with the conversation focusing on support for Ukraine, the White House announced afterwards.

In a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier promised Ukraine further help in the fight against Russia.

“We support Ukraine politically, in humanitarian issues, financially, militarily – with what we can and what is necessary, in coordination with our allies,” Steinmeier said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Chief of Staff Valeriy Zaluzhny travelled to Poland for a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Mark Milley.

“I outlined the urgent needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the meeting of which will accelerate our victory,” Zaluzhny announced on social networks on Tuesday.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two military leaders, who have been in regular telephone contact for a long time. (NAN)