At least nine dead in Russian air strikes on two Ukrainian cities
RZHYSHCHIV, Ukraine, March 22 (Reuters) - Russian air strikes on Ukrainian cities on Wednesday killed at least nine people in attacks that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said showed Moscow was not interested in peace.
In a series of early-morning drone strikes, at least eight people were killed and seven were injured when two dormitories and a college were hit in Rzhyshchiv, 40 miles (64 km) south of the capital Kyiv, emergency services said on Facebook.
One person was rescued from the site and four people were believed trapped under rubble. Rescue operations were continuing on Wednesday night.
The attack left a gaping hole in the top floor of a five-storey dormitory. A pile of rubble marked where part of another building had stood, a Reuters witness said.
Regional police chief Andrii Nebytov said an ambulance driver who went to the scene was among the dead.
Hours later, two residential buildings were damaged in a missile strike on the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia. One person was killed and 33 taken to hospital, officials said.
The Ukrainian military said it knocked out 16 of 21 Iranian-made Shahed drones fired by Russia.
"Every time someone tries to hear the word 'peace' in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes," Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter in an apparent reference to Chinese leader Xi Jinping's state visit to Russia, which ended on Wednesday.
Zelenskiy described the attack on Zaporizhzhia an act of "bestial savagery".
Russia invaded its neighbour Ukraine 13 months ago and has carried out waves of air attacks. Russia says it is targeting infrastructure as part of what it calls a "special military operation" to remove what it says is a threat to its own security. Ukraine and its allies accuse Moscow of an unprovoked war to grab territory.
"The majority of people (at the dormitories) were saved because they ... were in bomb shelters," police chief Nebytov said.
Viktoria, a town resident, said she heard the first explosion at 2 a.m.
"I woke up from that first explosion and went outside, where I heard another Shahed. It flew very low," she said. "And then there was another explosion, from the first explosion there had already been a fire ... And a third time something flew by."
A Rzhyshchiv College employee, who gave her name as Svitlana, said the students clearly knew what to do after the explosions occurred.
"Well, the children called us, we came here and took them to our homes ... Then, we sent them home," she said. "The children were in the shelter, they did everything right."
Air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said Russia probably carried out the Zaporizhzhia attack with high-speed rockets fired from the Tornado-S multiple rocket launch system.
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