A Russian missile strike tore into a popular pizza restaurant at dinnertime in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Tuesday evening, killing at least four people and injuring more than 40 others, according to Ukrainian officials.
There was a large crowd of people inside the restaurant, in Kramatorsk’s city center, when the missile hit on Tuesday, the head of the regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on national television.
A 17-year-old girl was among the dead and at least 42 people were wounded, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said in a statement. The prosecutor general warned three hours after the attack that it was possible that more people were trapped under the rubble.
Videos shot at the scene showed a fire burning in a heavily damaged building as black smoke rose above it. Rescuers tended to the wounded on debris-strewn streets as sirens blared. It took firefighters nearly three hours to extinguish the blaze, Ukraine’s emergency services said.
Journalists at the scene identified the restaurant that was hit as Ria Lounge, a long-running popular haunt in Kramatorsk known to many as Ria Pizza. The restaurant, which was on the ground floor, closed after the invasion began in February last year but reopened several months later.
With its covered outdoor seating, Ria Lounge is especially popular in the summer. Ukrainian soldiers stationed nearby, some of them freshly returned from the front, are frequent visitors, along with locals, foreign journalists and aid workers.
Anastasia Taylor-Lind, a British freelance photographer who was dining inside, said the restaurant was “pretty busy” at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening. The kitchen was supposed to close about a half-hour later.
A young woman with a baby in a stroller had just sat down next to where Ms. Taylor-Lind was eating pizza with a colleague when she said she heard a “roaring” noise and “immediately” knew it was an incoming missile. Then there was an explosion.
“I felt hot air and the sound of breaking glass and debris flying, clattering and tinkering,” she said. “It went on and on and on.”
Ms. Taylor-Lind said she and her colleague slid off their chairs and made it to the basement, fearful of another strike. Both were bleeding. A member of the wait staff washed the blood off her face, Ms. Taylor-Lind said, and also helped her colleague.
When they emerged from the basement, the restaurant was a sea of broken glass and tangled metal, she said. The ambulances had not yet arrived.
“Everyone who’d been in the restaurant who wasn’t injured was helping the people who were,” she said.
Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, is far enough away from the front line for life to seem relatively normal on most days. But air raid sirens are common, and the sounds of distant artillery are sometimes heard.
The city had a prewar population of around 150,000 people and was once one of the industrial centers of the Donbas region. Many people fled in the early months of the full-scale invasion. Since last year, some locals have started to return.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine noted the missile strike came on the anniversary of an attack on a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk, when 22 people were killed. He said the Russians had used S-300 missiles in Kramatorsk, a long-range surface-to-air missile Moscow has been firing at targets on the ground.