Bombing of school in Ukrainian town kills two, 60 more under debris

Evacuation efforts to focus on getting wounded and medics out of Azovstal * Russia's Defense Ministry says it shot down two Ukrainian SU-24 bombers

 Debris is seen next to a partially collapsed building is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine, May 8, 2022.  (photo credit: STATE EMERGENCY SERVICES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Debris is seen next to a partially collapsed building is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine, May 8, 2022.
(photo credit: STATE EMERGENCY SERVICES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Two people have been killed in the Russian bombing of a school in the Ukrainian village of Bilohorivka in the Luhansk separatist region, and the 60 who remain under the debris are feared dead, Serhiy Gaidai, the region's governor, said on Sunday.

Gaidai said Russia dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the school where about 90 people were sheltering, causing a fire that engulfed the building. Thirty people have been rescued.

"The fire was extinguished after nearly four hours, then the rubble was cleared, and, unfortunately, the bodies of two people were found," Gaidai wrote on wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app. "Sixty people were likely to have died under the rubble of buildings."

Bombing of school in Ukraine kills two, dozens more feared dead, May 8, 2022 (credit: Reuters).

Separately, Gaidai said that according to preliminary information, shelling in the village of Shypilovo destroyed a house and 11 people remained under the building's debris.

Russia's Defense Ministry says it shot down two Ukrainian SU-24 bombers and a warship near Odesa, according to an Interfax report on Sunday.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's republic of Chechnya, said on Sunday his soldiers have taken control of most of the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna, while Ukrainian officials said a battle for the town in the east of the country is ongoing.

In mid-April, Russian forces launched a new offensive push along most of Ukraine's eastern flank, with some of most intense attacks and shelling taking place recently around Popasna in the Luhansk region.

"Fighters of the Chechen special forces ... have taken most of Popasna under control," Kadyrov, who has often described himself as Russian President Vladimir Putin's "foot soldier," wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

 Debris next to a partially collapsed building is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine, May 7, 2022.  (credit: STATE EMERGENCY SERVICES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Debris next to a partially collapsed building is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine, May 7, 2022. (credit: STATE EMERGENCY SERVICES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

"The main streets and central districts of the town have been completely cleared."

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

There was no immediate response from Ukraine, but late Saturday Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said heavy fighting for the town continues.

"A battle for Popasna is ongoing," Arestovych said in a video on social media.

"Russian propagandists have joyfully reported that they have already taken it, but this is not quite how it is. This is their 117th 'capture of Popasna' claim only this week."

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said earlier on Saturday that Ukrainian forces still controlled the area. "The situation is very difficult, but under control," Gaidai said in a Telegram video post.

He added that Chechen troops were not taking part in fighting, but were looting and taking videos.

Kadyrov has frequently posted on Telegram reports and videos of Chechen soldiers allegedly participating in activities in Ukraine, but there has been no confirmation of how many have actually been deployed and whether they have participated in the fighting.

Evacuations out of Azovstal

Evacuation efforts will focus on getting the wounded and medics out of Mariupol's bombed-out Azovstal steelworks after all the women, children and elderly trapped in the plant were brought to safety, said Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukrainian resistance fighters in the plant have vowed not to surrender and Russian forces are seeking to declare a victory in the prolonged battle for the vast plant in time for Monday's Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, which commemorate when the Soviet Union triumphed over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

The Soviet-era Azovstal steel mill, the last holdout for Ukrainian forces in the key port city, has become a symbol of resistance to the Russian effort to capture swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine in the 10-week-old war.

US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders are to hold a video call with Zelensky on Sunday in a show of unity ahead of Victory Day, in which President Vladimir Putin typically inspects a massive military parade in Moscow.

"Putin's brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine – but it is also threatening peace and security across Europe," Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Saturday pledging more military aid.

Gazprom

Russian gas producer Gazprom said it was supplying natural gas to Europe via Ukraine on Sunday in line with requests from European consumers.

Requests stood at 92.1 million cubic meters (mcm) for May 8 compared with 92.4 mcm on May 7.

German parliament president arrives in Kyiv

The president of the German parliament Baerbel Bas arrived in Kyiv on Sunday to commemorate victims of World War Two and to hold political talks, a parliament official said on Twitter.

Enrico Brissa, Bundestag's chief of protocol, posted on Twitter pictures of Baerbel arriving on a train and her meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.