Photo: Sergey Bobok Agence France-Presse A woman walks past a burned resident building after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Oleksandr Yanovsky – Agence France-Presse to Kharkiv
Seven people were killed, including three children, on Saturday during a nighttime strike by Russian drones on a gas station in Kharkiv, a large city in the northeast, which poured a “river of fire” into a street and destroyed around fifteen houses.
According to local authorities, this attack carried out with Iranian-made Shahed drones hit a gas station and caused the spill of burning fuel, the fire quickly covering a large area and leading to the evacuation around fifty people.
“My mother-in-law called, she said it was burning […] Then she called back and started screaming that the flames had spread to the house. We heard the last cries and that's it, she no longer gave any sign of life,” Natalia, a relative of the victims, told AFP.
Oleksandre Lagoutine remained alive by managing to flee the flames. “There was a boom, it caught fire, and in five minutes we had a river of fire,” he testifies.
According to regional governor Oleg Synegoubov, seven people died in the attack, including three children: a 7-year-old, a 4-year-old and a six-month-old baby. Four people, including a child, were saved from the flames and around fifteen houses were destroyed.
“There was a family in one of the houses—five people. Two parents and three of their children. They are all dead, burned alive. In another building, there was a man who could no longer walk. His wife took care of him. They also died, burned alive,” said Sergiy Bolvinov, a Kharkiv police official.
According to him, approximately 3,800 tons of fuel were stored in this gas station which was also an oil depot.
“Infernal Molten Mass”
“The whole street turned into a hellish molten mass. As the fuel mixed with the snow and began to burn, the houses along the street began to catch fire,” Mr. Bolvinov explained.
“Our anger is absolute. This people will pay for everything,” the head of the presidential administration Andriï Iermak raged on Telegram.
Saturday's attack comes after a series of nighttime strikes in Kharkiv and further east, in the town of Velykyï Bourlouk.
The governor of the Kharkiv region previously said that civilian areas were affected in both localities, including a cafe in Velykyi Burlouk.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, two people were killed and two others injured in a Russian strike on the village of Veletynske in the Kherson region, the regional administration said.
Russian drone strikes also targeted Odessa, a large Black Sea port, leaving four injured by fragments of downed vehicles, according to Governor Oleg Kiper. In Izmail, on the Danube, the strikes destroyed industrial installations, he added.
In total, 23 of the 31 explosive drones launched by Russia on the Kharkiv and Odessa regions were destroyed in flight, the Air Force said.
On the side of Ukraine's Western allies, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Saturday called on Europeans to increase their arms production to increase the deliveries that Kiev sorely needs.
Less than a week before NATO Defense Ministers meet in Brussels on February 15-16, he stressed the need to “rebuild and develop the industrial base more quickly.” European defense.
Ukraine has repeatedly said that it needs more anti-aircraft defense systems to deal with strikes by the Russian army.