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Dozens of people died after rockets hit a train station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, which was being used to evacuate civilians to safer parts of the country, Ukrainian authorities said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, said at least 39 people had been killed and 87 injured, many seriously, updating an earlier estimate of 30 dead.

Reporters at the scene saw at least 20 bodies huddled together and lying under plastic sheeting next to the train station. Blood pooled on the floor and packed bags were strewn outside the building.

Journalists said four cars next to the station were destroyed and the remains of a large rocket with the words “for our children” in Russian lay next to the main building. Bodies were then seen being loaded onto a military truck.

Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskiy said in a statement. “Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population. It is an evil that has no limits. And if he is not punished, he will never stop.

Russia denied carrying out a missile strike on the station and claimed that the missile involved was used only by the Ukrainian military. Moscow has denied targeting civilians since invading Ukraine in February.

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Kyrylenko said thousands of people were at the station when the rockets hit. “The rashists [Russian fascists] knew very well where they were aiming and what they wanted: they wanted to sow panic and fear, they wanted to take as many civilians as possible,” he said.

He posted a photo online showing several bodies on the ground next to piles of suitcases and other luggage. Armed police wearing body armor stood next to them. Another photo showed emergency services tackling what appeared to be a fire, with a puddle of gray smoke billowing into the air.

The head of the Ukrainian railway company, Alexander Kamyshin, said that two rockets hit the station and that three trains carrying evacuees were blocked in the same region of Ukraine on Thursday after an airstrike on the line “This is of a deliberate attack on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk,” he wrote on social media.

“An evil that knows no bounds”: Zelenskiy condemns the attack on Kramatorsk station |  Ukraine
The remains of a large rocket bearing the words “for our children” in Russian. Photography: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said no Ukrainian troops were at the station at the time. “Russian forces hit Kramatorsk railway station, [firing] at an ordinary station, on ordinary people, there were no soldiers there,” he said during a speech in the Finnish parliament.

Ukrainian officials have said that Russian forces have regrouped for a new offensive and that Moscow plans to seize as much territory as possible in the eastern part of Ukraine known as Donbas, on the border with Russia.

Local authorities in some areas have urged civilians to leave while it is still possible, and relatively safe, to do so.

Kramatorsk was hit by Russian strikes earlier this week but has otherwise been largely spared the destruction suffered by other cities in eastern Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

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