By Sergiy Karazy and Valentyn Ogirenko
KYIV (Reuters) -Russia’s second missile assault on Kyiv this week injured at least 53 people, damaging homes and a children’s hospital, Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday, as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded for more help for his country.
The windows of residential apartment blocks were blown out and frightened residents streamed out onto the street to assess the damage. Missile debris blew a large crater in the ground and destroyed parked cars.
Ukraine’s air defence systems downed all 10 ballistic missiles that targeted the capital at about 3 a.m. (0100 GMT), Ukraine’s Air Force said on the Telegram app.
“Just yesterday, (U.S.) President (Joe) Biden and I agreed to work on increasing the number of air defence systems in Ukraine. The terrorist state demonstrated how important this decision is,” Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram, referring to Russia.
Falling debris caused injuries and destruction in four of Kyiv’s districts along the Dnipro River, which cuts through the capital, officials said. Thirty-five buildings were damaged, according to the city’s military administration.
Ukraine’s national police said 53 people, including six children, had been injured by the attack. Eighteen people have been hospitalised, it said in a social media post.
“There was no air raid siren. At around 4 a.m. (0200 GMT), I heard an explosion. We fled to the corridor, (the explosion wave) threw me into the doors,” Olena Ustinova, 45, a local administration clerk, told Reuters.
“I regained consciousness and started to shake the doors but they were blocked. I shouted for help from my balcony and emergency workers came to help me.”
Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff identified the projectiles as Iskander-M ballistic missiles, as well as S-400s: extremely fast missiles intended for air defence, but which have also been used to hit ground targets.
Zelenskiy, who was visiting Norway on Wednesday, said his main priority was to strengthen air defences.
His chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, praised Western-supplied air defence systems and their operators after Ukraine downed all 10. “The effectiveness of Western weapons in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers cannot be doubted,” Yermak said.
The Air Force said it also shot down all 10 Russian-launched attack drones over the Odesa region in southern Ukraine.
Windows and entrances at a children’s hospital in Kyiv’s Dniprovskyi district were shattered by debris, but based on initial assessments, there were no casualties, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
“These (ballistic) missiles fly at a speed up to 8,000 km per hour,” Klitschko told Reuters while visiting a site near one of the damaged buildings.
Kyiv military administration chief Serhiy Popko said 17 people, including seven children, were evacuated from a residential building in the Dniprovskyi district after debris hit a building and nearby cars, causing a fire.
The attack followed a salvo of ballistic missiles that targeted Kyiv on Monday and injured four people.
There was no comment from Russia about Wednesday’s attack, which also damaged buildings in Kyiv’s Desnyanskyi, Darnitskyi and Holosiivskyi districts.
Both Moscow and Kyiv deny targeting civilians in the nearly 22-month-long war that Russia launched against its neighbour in February 2022.
(Additional reporting by Anna Voitenko, Max Hunder and Olena Harmash; Editing by Gareth Jones)