KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainians scrambled to repair the damage and restart services on Saturday, a day after one of the largest Russian missile attacks on infrastructure killed at least five people and knocked out power and water. in many of the main cities of the country.
While Ukrainians were already nervous about further attacks, fresh explosions raged in the port city of Odessa on Saturday morning and airstrike alerts sounded across the country a few hours later. By mid-morning, the Ukrainian general command warned that military planes were taking off from neighboring Belarus and that all of Ukraine was a potential target.
The first reports from Ukrainian officials on Saturday were of intercepted incoming missiles. The country’s southern military command said two incoming Russian missiles had been intercepted by its air defense in Odessa and caused no casualties.
Across the country, Ukrainian utility and rescue workers were working to restore electricity and water supplies that were disrupted in a huge wave of strikes at power plants and power grids on Friday.
Ukraine’s general staff said on Saturday that the Russians had launched 98 missiles and 65 rockets fired from multiple rocket systems aimed at civilian and energy infrastructure targets in that barrage. The military had previously put the figure at 76 missiles, and while it was not immediately clear why the count changed, information in the first hours after an attack is often incomplete.
Ukrainian officials said 60 missiles were shot down before they could hit their targets, but 14 regions were without power and running water in the hours after the attacks.
In the southern city of Kryvyi Rih, rescue teams pulled the body of an 18-month-old boy from the rubble of a house in the early hours of Saturday, bringing the death toll from a Russian missile attack the day before to four. . As the missiles struck a power plant in the city on Friday, cutting power to the city, a missile also struck a residential building. The boy’s parents and a 64-year-old woman were killed in the attack, which also injured 13 other people.
As Ukraine managed to push back Russian forces and retake battlefield territory in eastern and southern Ukraine in recent months, Moscow has resorted to a strategy of attacking power plants and energy supplies to increase the pressure on the Ukrainian government causing further suffering among the civilian population.
Ukrainians have responded with defiance and the government has tried to boost morale by repairing the damage as quickly as possible.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that workers had begun repairs even before airstrike warnings were lifted. “Our electrical engineers and repair crews have already started work during the air alert and are doing everything they can to restore generation and supply,” he said in his evening address to the nation. “It takes time. But it will be done.”
He called on local authorities to partner with businesses to create additional neighborhood gathering points, called “invincibility centers,” where people can congregate to stay warm, share news and recharge their cell phones. Powered by generators or emergency power supplies, the centers have been set up in administrative buildings, shopping malls and in street tents across the country to provide respite for people living without heat or electricity in sub-zero temperatures.
The city of Kherson, which has come under repeated Russian shell and shell fire since Ukrainian forces recaptured it last month after Russian forces withdrew across the Dnipro river, came under fire again in recent days, Halyna said. Luhova, head of the city’s military administration. on Saturday.
“Part of the population loses electricity, then our specialists restore it,” he said. “This is an ongoing process: one part is restored, then another part is damaged again.”
The withdrawal of Russian troops destroyed much of the power and utility systems in the city of Kherson, but the Ukrainian administration has already restored electricity to most areas, and 70 to 80 percent of the population has running water and heating, he said. Still, up to 10,000 people in an area near the riverbank have been living under constant attack without electricity, heat or water, she said. “The situation there is extremely serious,” he said.
On Saturday morning, the Kyiv metro was running again, Mayor Ivan Klitschko said on the social media app Telegram. Water was back on and electricity was restored to much of the city.
“The water supply has been returned to all residents of the capital,” he said. “Half of Kyiv’s citizens already have heating and we are working to restore it for all residents of the city. Currently, two thirds of Kyiv residents have electricity.”
In a particularly defiant gesture, the mayor also posted on facebook the reopening of a glass-bottomed pedestrian bridge in the city that had been damaged by missile strikes in October.
Oleksandr Chubko contributed reporting from Kherson.
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