Nightly missile strikes on a residential tower and recreation center in a coastal town southwest of the Black Sea port city of Odessa early Friday killed at least 19 people and injured dozens more , Ukrainian officials said.
One of the missiles hit a nine-storey residential tower in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, about 80 km southwest of Odessa, killing 16 people and injuring at least 37, according to the state emergency service Ukrainian. Another hit a recreation center, where three died and one was injured, officials said.
Rescuers have completed the search for bodies in the tower, which housed more than 100 people and was destroyed on one side, according to the regional military administration. They were still walking through the rubble of the recreation center, officials said. The missiles hit around 1 a.m.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov again denied on Friday that Russia was targeting any civilian infrastructure. “I would like to remind you again of the words of the President of the Russian Federation and Commander-in-Chief that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation do not work against civilian targets during the special military operation,” Mr. Peskov. in his daily conference call with reporters.
Russia’s targets, he said, included ammunition and weapons depots, factories that manufacture and repair military equipment, and places where “foreign mercenaries” and “nationalist elements” are based and trained.
Details of the missile attacks could not immediately be verified.
The attacks came as Russian troops retreated from Snake Island in the Black Sea, about 20 miles off the southern coast of Ukraine, after repeated assaults by Ukrainian forces. The withdrawal was expected to undermine Russia’s control over vital grain transport routes from Odessa.
Odessa has long been coveted by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, whose forces have continued to show a willingness to target civilians during the war. Previous Russian targets included a theater, a maternity hospital and people queuing for bread.
On Monday, a Russian missile attack hit a shopping mall in the industrial city of Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, killing at least 18 people. A group of 7 leaders meeting in Germany called the mall attack a “war crime” in a statement.
During the first weeks of the war, Odessa was largely spared the deadly attacks on civilians suffered by other Ukrainian cities. Efforts by Russian forces to march west along the coast and capture the city were hampered by Ukrainian resistance and logistical problems.