At least 21 people including two children were killed by Russian bombing in the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy overnight, the regional prosecutor’s office has said.
The office said the victims had been killed in an airstrike on a residential street, adding that the bodies were being recovered by emergency services and search operations were continuing.
The region’s military administration chief said Sumy was enduring an “unequal battle” and “the kids are being killed” by bombs from Russian planes.
“After 23 hours, Russian enemy planes dropped air bombs on the city and district,” Dmytro Zhyvytskyi wrote on Facebook. “Potraplânâ in the residential quarters of the city of Sumy destroyed and houses damaged and people injured. There are dead and injured. Rescuers are working in places. Among the victims are children.”
Zhyvytskyi added: “What rules can there be when the Russian army kills, destroys, drops bombs on civilian population?! The kids are being killed.”
At 9.30am local time people began boarding buses out of Sumy – the first evacuation from a Ukrainian city through a humanitarian corridor agreed with Russia after several failed attempts in recent days.
Zhivitskiy said in a video statement that buses were heading west for the city of Poltava. He said priority would be given to people with disabilities, pregnant women and children in orphanages. Sumy lies just 30 miles from the Russian border.
Residents were also leaving the town of Irpin, a frontline Kyiv suburb where Reuters journalists had filmed families fleeing under fierce bombardment on Sunday.
“As of 09:30 (0730 GMT), more than 150 people have been evacuated and (evacuation) activities are under way,” said Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of the Kyiv region.
Residents ran with their young children in buggies or cradling babies in arms, while others carried pets and plastic bags of belongings.
“The city is almost ruined, and the district where I’m living, it’s like there are no houses which were not bombed,” said one young mother, holding a baby beneath a blanket while her daughter stood by her side.
“Yesterday was the hardest bombing, and the lights and sound is so scary, and the whole building is shaking.”
Reuters contributed to this report