At least 20 killed and scores injured in Russian ‘double tap’ missile strike on Odesa

By Christian Edwards, Maria Kostenko and Sharon Braithwaite, CNN

CNN  —  A Russian missile strike hit civilian infrastructure in the Ukrainian city of Odesa, killing at least 20 people and injuring scores of others in the deadliest attack on the Black Sea port city since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian officials said Friday.

After the first missile struck Odesa Friday morning, killing and wounding civilians, Ukrainian emergency service personnel who had rushed to the scene were then caught in a second strike, in an attack known as a “double tap” used by Russia throughout more than two years of its war in Ukraine.

“This is the first time a double attack has happened in Odesa region,” Maryna Averina, a spokeswoman for the State Emergency Service in Odesa, told CNN.

“First responders arrived at the site of the strike and immediately began to extinguish the fire, clearing the rubble and searching for victims. And then there was a second missile strike,” she said, adding that eight rescuers had been killed.

Among those killed was Denys Kolesnikov, 25, who worked at a fire station in Odesa, Averina said.

The attacks come as Russians across the country are heading to the polls in carefully choreographed elections expected to deliver President Vladimir Putin a fifth term in power.

Russia fired the first missile at around 11 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), striking a civilian building and causing a fire to break out, Ukraine’s emergency services said. Rescuers arrived to try to extinguish the fire and search for survivors before being caught in the second strike shortly after.

As well as the 20 killed, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said that at least 73 people were injured, including seven emergency services personnel.

Maria Slisovka stands outside her house near the missile strike in Odesa.

Maria Slisovska, 50, who lives near the site of the strike, was at home when the missiles hit.

“At first our windows were still intact. Then about five minutes later there was a second blast. The ceilings were damaged. In the kitchen, plaster fell from the ceilings. Thank God my mom wasn’t in the kitchen at that moment,” she told CNN.

“The second hit blew the windows out. Then the ambulances started coming in. And then there was a strike after the paramedics arrived. The guys were dead. There were people covered in blood. We are now clearing the glass.”

In his evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the strikes a “despicable act of cowardice” and said the search for survivors under the rubble is ongoing.

“Our Defense Forces will do everything to make Russian killers feel our just response,” he added.

Broken glass is strewn across the back of an ambulance after the strikes on Odesa.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko sent his condolences to the families of those killed and wounded and Denise Brown, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, condemned the attack.

“The loss of lives and injuries inflicted on civilians and those selflessly risking their lives to save them is utterly unacceptable,” Brown said.

Odesa, a crucial port for Ukraine’s grain exports and a major base for its navy, has sustained huge damage after months of Russian strikes.

Last week, a Russian missile exploded just a few hundred meters away from a convoy carrying Zelensky and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – the leader of a NATO member state. Both men said they were close enough to see and hear the strike.

Zelensky frequently makes high-risk trips to the front lines and has welcomed dozens of world leaders to Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion. But the attack was one of the closest calls for the president.

An injured man is helped away from the scene of the strike, which killed at least 14 people.

After the strike, Zelensky made a renewed plea for his allies to provide more air defenses. While Ukraine’s capital Kyiv is relatively well protected by the US-made Patriot system, not all Ukrainian cities enjoy the same level of shielding.

Mitsotakis called the strike a “vivid reminder that there is a real war going on here. Every day there is a war, which not only affects the front, the soldiers – it affects our innocent fellow citizens.”

CNN’s Radina Gigova and Olga Voitovych contributed reporting.

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