Russia rained down scores of missiles on Ukraine's power grid on Friday, killing at least three people, damaging nine energy facilities and forcing Kyiv to introduce emergency blackouts across the country as winter bites, APA reports citing Reuters.
Many people headed for shelters during the morning rush hour to take cover from the latest big attack on vital infrastructure since October, which a Kyiv official described as one of the largest missile barrages since Russia invaded in February.
The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, reported "colossal" damage, threatening to leave many people without heating in freezing winter temperatures. The governor of the central region of Dnipropetrovsk reported "serious damage".
Air defences took out 60 out of 76 incoming missiles fired at critical infrastructure, Ukraine's top general said. Moscow deliberately tried to distract the air defences by flying warplanes near Ukraine, Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said.
"They want to destroy us, and make us slaves. But we will not surrender. We will endure," said Lidiya Vasilieva, 53, as she headed for shelter at a Kyiv railway station. "I want the war over and soon. But I am ready to wait as long as needed."
Three people were killed in the central city of Kryvyi Rih, authorities said, and a fourth died in a fire in the southern Kherson region after an apartment block was hit by shelling before the missile strike.
The attack in Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's hometown, also wounded at least 13 people, including four small children, a senior official said.
Grid operator Ukrenergo warned that repair times would be longer compared with previous ones and that it would take longer to restore power.
"What we already see is damage to about nine (power) generating facilities. Now we are still verifying the damage," Energy Minister German Galushchenko told national television.
The central city of Poltava and parts of Kyiv were among areas where power was knocked out. Critical infrastructure was hit in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, the Black Sea region of Odesa and in Vinnytsia in west central Ukraine.
Three loud blasts were heard in Kyiv and smoke wafted overhead, Reuters witnesses said. Some railway lines were left without power.
"There is colossal damage to infrastructure, primarily the energy system," Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. "I ask you to be patient with what is happening now. I know that in your houses there is no light, no heating, no water supply."
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Zelenskiy's office, said emergency power shutdowns had been introduced nationwide to enable repairs.