Conflicts & War

‘Tornado of fire’ kills at least 20 people in Russian attack on shopping mall

By Luis Lidón

Kremenchuk, Ukraine, Jun 28 (EFE).- As rescue teams continue to search for victims and air raid alarms sound in Kremenchuk, new information is emerging about the Russian missile attack that killed at least 20 people in a shopping center.

“The instant spread of fire in the center due to the blast wave made it look like a tornado of fire that devoured everything in its path,” Olexandr Lysenko, the second in command in the emergency operation to control the situation, explained to Efe.

Lysenko pointed out that the power of the fire from a missile detonation is very different from that of a conventional fire, with temperatures so high that they can melt everything, even metal.

About 1,000 people, including emergency services, firefighters and police, are working to find the 21 people still missing from the attack that has drawn unanimous condemnation from the European Union and the US.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy went to the site of the attack to show the press that there was no military equipment of any kind inside the shopping area and to accuse Russia of breaking the basic principles of warfare by attacking civilians.

But even this walk through a completely burned space, of which only the exterior structures were left standing, had to be interrupted by an anti-aircraft siren announcing a possible Russian bombing.

Monastyrskiy, before ending the meeting with the press, showed the place of the impact of the X-22 missile at the back of the shopping center, which coincides with the testimonies of where the initial explosion took place according to several witnesses that Efe spoke to.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported that the two cruise missiles used were fired from a TU-22 strategic bomber from the Russian region of Kursk, near the border.

The second of the projectiles exploded near an industrial company located at the rear of the shopping center, about a hundred meters away behind a high wall.

Mykola Danyleiko, one of the company’s managers, said that two of his workers were lightly injured by glass cuts and that there was no military equipment of any kind there.

Since shortly after the attack, there had been speculation that this company, which specializes in asphalt mixing machinery, might be the target rather than the Amstar shopping center, which was very busy on Monday afternoon.

According to medical sources, 25 people have been hospitalized and, of these, four are in intensive care. Among those hospitalized are people with amputations, fractures and shrapnel wounds.


Oleksander, a 19-year-old who worked in a mobile accessories store in the mall told Efe that he escaped unharmed because a friend called him just before the explosion and went to one of the doors to talk.

“Inside, at that moment, there were only store workers and security people left because the anti-aircraft alarm had started sounding earlier,” added the young man, who visited a co-worker, Yulia, who was slightly injured.

Oleksander has even noted the exact time of the impact, 15:52 on Monday, just 10 minutes after the sirens sounded to warn of a possible strike. According to his account, the vast majority of people left the center, which prevented a major tragedy.

“There was a very loud explosion in the back and a shock wave. First there was a lot of smoke and then a fire that spread very quickly,” he recounted.

The G7 and the EU have called the attack on the shopping mall a “war crime.”

“The Russian state has become the largest terrorist organization in the world,” Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky said.

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