Russian missile strikes kill 18 in Ukraine’s Odesa region – authorities

KYIV (Reuters) -Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two holiday camps near Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens, Ukrainian authorities said.

One missile struck the building in the village of Serhiivka in the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi district at about 1 a.m. (2200 GMT Thursday), killing 16 people, Odesa region emergency official Ihor Budalenko told local television, adding that 41 people had been rescued.

Budalenko said rescue work was still ongoing to find people who could still be trapped in the building where 152 lived.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said missiles also hit two holiday camps nearby.

Odesa region governor Maksym Marchenko put the total death toll at 18 and 31 hospitalised in a post on Telegram. He said Russia had used Soviet-era Kh-22 missiles, which all came from the direction of the Black Sea.

Reuters could not independently confirm details of the incidents.

Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine in late February in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.

Ukrainian officials have said a Kh-22 missile fired by a Russian bomber hit a crowded shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk on Monday, killing at least 19 people. That strike drew condemnation from Western leaders and the pope but Russia rejected Ukraine’s account, saying the missile had struck a store of Western-supplied weapons next to the mall, causing it to catch fire.

A Ukrainian army general on Thursday said Russia was trying to hit military and critical infrastructure with its missile strikes but that because it was often using inaccurate Soviet missiles it was causing significant loss of civilian life.

He said 202 missiles had been fired on Ukraine in the second half of June, an increase of 120 from the first half of the month. He estimated that 68 civilian sites had been hit in the second half of June.

(Reporting by Max HunderAdditional reporting by Ronald Popeski and Olzhas AuyezovEditing by Sandra Maler, Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie)