At least 50 killed after rockets hit Ukraine station evacuating civilians

This video contains distressing images

ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith looks at the events that saw at least 50 people die in a rocket attack

At least 50 people have been killed and 300 more wounded in a rocket strike on a train station being used to evacuate civilians in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian military attacked a train station in the city of Kramatorsk, in the eastern region of Donetsk.

Thousands of people were at the train station at the time preparing to head to safer regions, said the president, after officials urged residents to flee while they could ahead of a predicted new Russian offensive in the east.

Burnt out cars at Kramatorsk station following the rocket strike Credit: Getty

Ukrainian officials said they and Russia had agreed to establish multiple evacuation routes in the east.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the regional governor of Donetsk, which lies in the Donbas region, said that 50 people were killed, including five children, and many dozens more were wounded.

Kramatorsk mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko told Ukrainian TV that between 30 and 40 surgeons were treating the wounded, but that hospitals were unable to cope with the surge in admissions.

The regional governor of Donestk said that at least 50 people were killed in the attack. Credit: ITV News

The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor-general said about 4,000 civilians were in and around the station at the time of the strike, most of them women and children. 

Boris Johnson condemned the attack in the strongest terms, saying the assault on fleeing civilians was “unconscionable”, as he suggested Vladimir Putin’s forces were guilty of a war crime.

“The attack at the train station in eastern Ukraine shows the depth to which Putin’s once vaunted army has sunk," he said during a press conference with Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“It is a war crime indiscriminately to attack civilians and Russian crimes in Ukraine will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”

Peter Smith says analysts believe Ukraine can win the war

Following the attack, the remains of a large rocket bearing the words "for our children" in Russian was captured next to the main building of the train station.

Ukrainian police inspect a rocket with the words "for our children" in Russian next to the train station in Kramatorsk following the attack Credit: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty

Calling Russian troops "evil", the Ukrainian president shared photos on social media that showed a train carriage with smashed out windows, abandoned luggage and baby prams, and bodies lying in what looked like an outdoor waiting area.

“The inhuman Russians are not changing their methods. Without the strength or courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population,” he wrote.

“This is an evil without limits. And if it is not punished, then it will never stop.”

The Ukrainian president shared an image of the aftermath of the attack. Credit: Volodymyr Zelenskyy/Facebook

The Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk have claimed Ukrainian forces were responsible.

Russian-backed separatists control part of the Donestsk region, but Kramatorsk remains under Ukrainian government control.

Meanwhile, harrowing photos of the aftermath of a Russian attack on the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, have emerged, with ruined apartments now a tomb to a mass grave below.

As ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith notes, hundreds of people were hiding in basements when Russian bombs struck.

Some who survived were trapped in the rubble for a month.

"This isn’t a rescue mission," Peter Smith writes, as there is little hope of finding anyone alive under the rubble.

"As well as annihilating apartment blocks and killing hundreds, the soldiers that were here evidently wanted to leave a mark with vandalism, graffiti, and looting in suburbs of Kyiv," he added.

Nonetheless, rescue teams are carrying on searching, as evidence of alleged war crimes continues to mount.

Buildings in Borodyanka, which is not far from the border with Belarus, have been badly damaged in assaults. Credit: Peter Smith/ ITV News
The twisted wreckage of the attacks on Borodyanka. Credit: ITV News/Peter Smith

Mr Zelenskyy called for a moment of silence to commemorate all the victims of Russian aggression during the last eight years of war in the east of Ukraine.

The latest key developments:

  • Ukrainian authorities said that a missile hit a train station where thousands of people had gathered to flee in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 50 people on Friday

  • Russian troops have fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine and are refocusing on a new offensive in the east

  • Ukrainian leaders predict more grim discoveries after the retreat of Russian forces and President Zelenskyy has warned scenes in Borodyanka are "much more horrible than Bucha"

  • A Kremlin spokesperson admitted Russia has suffered “significant losses of troops”

  • Top EU officials are travelling to Kyiv to meet with President Zelenskyy in a show of solidarity and return the EU's ambassador to the capital

  • The UK and EU joined the US in sanctioning two of President Vladimir Putin's daughters

  • The World Health Organisation has verified more than 100 Russian attacks on Ukrainian hospitals and health care facilities, killing and injuring patients and medics

  • Russia was suspended on Thursday from UN Human Rights Council amid civilian massacre allegations

  • The US and EU announced more sanctions against Russia

The attack came as Ukrainian leaders continue to plea for weapons from the West to desperately avoid a repeat in the east of the horrors of reported civilian massacres, rape and torture that are still unfolding in the wake of Russian occupation in the north.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was "appalled" by reports of the train station attack and vowed the UK would "hold Russia and Putin to account" for their "war crime".

Earlier on Friday morning, the UK Ministry of Defence said Russian forces have now "fully withdrawn" from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, and that some will be transferred to the eastern Donbas region to continue fighting.

The MoD had predicted that Ukraine would likely have at least a week before it would expect any Russian mass redeployment from the north because troops will require "significant replenishment".

"Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues and Russian forces have advanced further south from the strategically important city of Izium which remains under their control," the MoD added in a statement.

A Kremlin spokesperson admitted that Russia has suffered major troop casualties during its six-week invasion of Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov told Sky News: "Yes, we have significant losses of troops and it's a huge tragedy for us."

But Mr Peskov claimed Russia withdrew its troops from the devastated northern Kyiv and Chernihiv regions "as an act of a goodwill... to show that Russia is really ready to create comfortable conditions for continuation of negotiations."

A man walks past an apartments building damaged by shelling in Chernihiv Credit: AP

In his nightly address on Thursday, President Zelenskyy said work has begun to dig through the rubble in Borodyanka, a city that was occupied by the Russians.

He warned the unfolding scenes are "much more horrible" and "much scarier" than those seen in Bucha, where bodies were left strewn across streets with signs of being tortured, causing global revulsion.

The mayor of Bucha said investigators found at least three sites of mass shootings of civilians during the Russian occupation.

The devastating aftermath of attacks on buildings in Borodyanka. Credit: ITV News

Most victims died from gunshots, not from shelling, he said, and some corpses with their hands tied were “dumped like firewood” into mass graves, including one at a children’s camp.

Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said 320 civilians were confirmed dead as of Wednesday. But he expected the death toll to increase as volunteers picked more bodies on Thursday in the city that was once home to 50,000 people. Now, only 3,700 remain, he said.

Reports of civilian massacres in Bucha, near Kyiv, caused global revulsion Credit: AP

During a visit to Bucha, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the civilian deaths underscored the barbarity of Russian attacks, adding they showed the "cruel face" of Putin's army.

She pledged to back Kyiv in its defence of the "border of Europe" and said that the EU would support Mr Zelenskyy's wish for his country to secure membership of the bloc.

"The unthinkable has happened here. We have seen the cruel face of Putin's army," Ms von der Leyen, who was wearing a flak jacket, told reporters.

"We have seen the recklessness and the coldheartedness with which they have been occupying the city."

'In Bucha we saw our humanity shattered... the whole world is mourning with the people of Bucha," she added.

'The whole world is mourning with the people of Bucha,' the European Commission chief said

Her comments came as Ukrainian authorities in the seaport city of Mariupol expected to find evidence of more atrocities and killings. “The same cruelty. The same terrible crimes,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

He said the Russians were preparing to shock the world in the same way by showing corpses in Mariupol and falsely claiming they were killed by the Ukrainian defenders.

The World Health Organization said it has now verified more than 100 “attacks on health care” in Ukraine since the invasion.

At least 103 attacks on hospitals and other health-care facilities in the country, and at least 73 were killed and 51 injured in those incidents, said the WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

For expert analysis and insight on the biggest stories listen to our podcast to find out What You Need To Know