Zelensky accuses Putin of being ‘madman’ following airstrike on Kharkiv hypermarket

The Epicentre hypermarket on fire, Kharkiv, 25 May 2024. Photo: Oleh Synehubov / Telegram

The Epicentre hypermarket on fire, Kharkiv, 25 May 2024. Photo: Oleh Synehubov / Telegram

A Russian air strike on a Kharkiv hypermarket on Saturday afternoon killed at least 16 people and injured over 43 more, according to Kharkiv region Governor Oleh Synyehubov, who said later on Saturday evening that a further 16 people remained unaccounted for.

The strike was confirmed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said that the entire 10,000-square-metre site of the hypermarket had been engulfed in flames, but that emergency services were tackling the fire. He said that as many as 200 people may have been inside the hypermarket at the time of the strike.

The State Emergency Service of Ukraine later reported that the fire had been successfully contained, but that firefighters were still attempting to extinguish the blaze.

The Russians used UMPB D-30 glide bombs to target the DIY hypermarket, according to preliminary data provided by the Kharkiv Region's Prosecutor's Office, Ukrainian national broadcaster Suspilne reported.

“This attack on Kharkiv is another manifestation of Russian madness, there is just no other way to put it,” Zelensky said, adding that: “Only such madmen as Putin are capable of killing and terrorising people in such a vile way.”

“If Ukraine had enough air defence systems and modern combat aircraft, such Russian strikes would have been impossible,” Synyehubov wrote on Telegram. “That’s why we are appealing to all leaders, to all states: we need a significant strengthening of our air defence and sufficient capabilities to destroy Russian terrorists,” he added.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Telegram that there were still approximately 15 members of hypermarket staff missing, and called the strike “pure terrorism”. He also reported a second Russian airstrike on the city centre.

Synyehubov later said that 18 people had been injured in the second airstrike on the centre of Kharkiv.

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