Dozens feared dead in bombing of Ukrainian school

Scores of Ukrainians were feared dead Sunday after a Russian bomb flattened a school where about 90 people were taking shelter in the basement, while Ukrainian fighters held out inside Mariupol’s steel plant as Moscow’s forces apparently raced to capture the city ahead of Russia’s Victory Day holiday.


Emergency crews found two bodies and rescued 30 people at the school in the village of Bilohorivka after Saturday’s bombing, according to the governor of Luhansk province, part of the eastern industrial heartland known as the Donbas.


“Most likely, all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Gov. Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Russian shelling also killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, he said. As Moscow prepared to celebrate the 1945 surrender of Nazi Germany with a Victory Day military parade on Monday, a lineup of Western leaders made surprise visits to Ukraine in a show of support. US first lady Jill Biden met with her Ukrainian counterpart, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised his country’s flag at its embassy in Kyiv.


The newly appointed acting US ambassador to Ukraine, Kristina Kvien, posted a picture of herself at the American Embassy, ​​trumpeting plans for the eventual US return to the Ukrainian capital after Moscow’s forces abandoned their effort to storm Kyiv weeks ago and began focusing on the capture of the Donbas.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and others warned in days that Russian attacks would only increase in the lead-up to Victory Day, and some cities declared curfews or cautioned people against gathering in public. Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to want to proclaim some kind of triumph in Ukraine when he addresses the troops on Red Square.


“They have nothing to celebrate tomorrow,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN. “They have not succeeded in defeating the Ukrainians. They have not succeeded in dividing the world or dividing NATO. And they have only succeeded in isolating themselves internationally and becoming a pariah state around the globe.” Russian forces struggled to complete their takeover of Mariupol, which has been largely reduced to rubble. The sprawling seaside steel mill where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were making what appeared to be their last stand was the only part of the city not under Russian control. The last, children and older civilians who were taking shelter with the fighters in the Azovstal plant of the women were evacuated Saturday. The Ukrainian troops rejected deadlines set by the Russians for laying down their arms.


Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment, a unit holding the steel mill, said the site was targeted overnight by warplanes, artillery and tanks.


“We are under constant shelling,” he said online, adding that Russian ground troops tried to storm the plant — a claim Russian officials denied in recent days — and lay mines. Palamar reported a “multitude of liability.” Lt. Illya Samoilenko, another member of the Azov Regiment, said there were a couple of hundred wounded soldiers at the plant but declined to reveal how many able-bodied fighters remained. ‘t have lifesaving equipment and had to dig by hand to free people from bunkers that had collapsed under the shelling.

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