By Anna Voitenko
CHASIV YAR, Ukraine, July 11 (Reuters) – The death toll from a Russian rocket attack that hit an apartment block in eastern Ukraine over the weekend rose to 30 on Monday while rescuers searched for survivors in the ruins, an official from the president’s office said.
Brick by brick, rescuers picked through a huge mound of rubble that remained of a collapsed five-story block struck late on Saturday in the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk province.
A Reuters reporter saw rescuers lift a survivor from the ruins to a stretcher and carry away the bodies of two people in white bags. Soldiers also helped with the rescue effort.
Nine people have been rescued so far, the State Emergency Service said.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said rescuers had cleared 65% of the rubble, weighing around 170 tonnes, by early evening on Monday.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February in what it calls a special military operation, denies targeting civilians.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Monday “high-precision ground-based weapons…have destroyed the temporary deployment point” of a Ukrainian territorial defense unit in Chasiv Yar.
Russia is expected to focus the brunt of its assault on eastern Ukraine in Donetsk province after claiming the capture of neighboring Luhansk. Together, the two provinces make up the wider Donbas industrial region. (Reporting by Anna Voitenko in Chasiv Yar, Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade and Max Hunder in Kyiv; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Alex Richardson, Bernadette Baum and Mark Heinrich)