The Current

A Ukrainian woman went to buy a computer. Moments later, a missile hit the mall

A Russian missile destroyed a crowded shopping mall in Ukraine's central city of Kremenchuk Monday, leaving at least 18 dead, dozens injured and more still missing.

Missile destroyed crowded shopping mall in city of Kremenchuk on Monday

A Russian missile strike hit a shopping mall Monday, in Ukraine's central city of Kremenchuk. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)

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On Monday, Oksana Guida went to a mall in Ukraine's central city of Kremenchuk to buy a computer. Minutes later, that same mall was engulfed in flames after being hit by a Russian missile attack.

Guida, a local political activist, had gone back to her car with her family, when the store didn't have what she needed.

Twelve minutes later, a Russian missile hit the shopping centre, with reportedly 1,000 people inside. So far, 18 deaths have been confirmed, with dozens injured and many more missing.

Guida was about 160 metres from the explosion, and suffered head trauma and damage to her hearing.

Through a translator, she told The Current that the mall had been filled with young families, and mainly staffed by young women. She said she saw smoke in the immediate aftermath of the attack, and then fire. People were running from the building, but also others ran back inside, to help.

She would later learn that nine people in the computer store she just visited had burned to death.

LISTEN | City 'in shock' after mall destroyed

Kremenchuk has a population of about 220,000. Guida said that many people know someone who was trapped or killed in the shopping centre, and the city is in shock.

The attack unfolded as G7 leaders met in Germany, and released a joint statement pledging fresh sanctions on Russia, and to continue supporting Ukraine "for as long as it takes."

Inna Sovsun, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, said it was a "nice statement," but she wants to see efforts to stop the four-month-old war from becoming a long-term conflict. 

"In order to make it short, we need arm supplies not sometime in the future, we need them today," she said.

WATCH | Russian strike hits Ukraine mall

Russian missiles hit Ukraine mall

2 months ago
Duration 2:22
Russian missile attacks have hit another civilian target in Ukraine, a shopping mall far from the front lines. Ukrainian officials say the attack was meant to terrorize its population and pressure its allies.

She welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden's pledge to send rocket systems earlier this month, but said Ukraine has been asking for help with air defence from the very beginning. 

"Oksana's friends who have been burned alive in that building, they could have lived if our voices were heard a bit earlier," she said.

Russia targeting civilians, says MP

Russia has claimed that its missile targeted a nearby ammunition storage, setting off a fire that spread to the shopping mall. Those claims have been denied by Ukrainian officials.

Sovsun said Russia "is specifically targeting civilians," pointing to other attacks, including an April strike on a train station in Kramatorsk that left at least 52 people dead.

"They knew perfectly well what they were doing and they need to be punished for what they have done to Kremenchuk and other cities, all over Ukraine," she said.

Volunteers continue search and rescue efforts early Tuesday. (Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press)

She wants G7 leaders to meet Russia's invasion "not by voicing their concern, not by saying that they are extremely outraged by what happened, but by actually increasing the arms supplies to Ukraine."

Sovsun said she recently brought her young son back to Kyiv from western Ukraine, to be closer to him. She felt it was safe to do so, but quickly realized the effect the war was having on him.

"I had to put him to bed yesterday night and he said, 'Mum, the war is closer here, am I safe here?'" she said.

"That is something that I will never forgive Putin and Russians for, for my son experiencing this fear. But I know that we have to hold on and to keep on fighting," she said.

Written by Padraig Moran, with files from the Associated Press. Produced by Joana Draghici.

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