Russian forces made significant gains in Ukraine on Saturday, advancing into the besieged port of Mariupol, destroying an underground weapons depot in the west and leaving a marine barracks in ruins following one of the deadliest rocket strikes on Ukraine’s military in the nearly month-old war.
Dozens of soldiers were killed when Russian troops bombed a Ukrainian military barracks in the southern city of Mykolaiv, witnesses told AFP on Saturday while a rescue operation was underway.
“No fewer than 200 soldiers were sleeping in the barracks” when Russian troops struck early Friday, a Ukrainian serviceman on the ground, 22-year-old Maxim, told AFP without providing his last name.
“At least 50 bodies have been recovered, but we do not know how many others are in the rubble,” he said.
Another soldier estimated that the bombing could have killed around 100 people.
Authorities have not yet released an official death toll.
Ukrainian authorities say only that Mykolaiv, which they describe as being a "shield" to the key strategic military port of Odessa, some 130 kilometres (85 miles) further west, is resisting Russian attacks and pushing back the invaders' assaults.
Mykolaiv has been blocking Russia's advance west along the Black Sea coast for weeks. Overnight there was more heavy shelling in the south of the city.
There are also reports that Russian reconnaissance teams, sent in to locate military targets for attack, have been found there.
Russian air raids on Mykolaiv have been taking place throughout the day, a regional official said.
Vitaly Kim, head of the regional administration, said there wasn't even enough time to raise the alarm over the latest raids "because by the time we announce this tornado, it's already there".
"The (alert) message and the bombings arrive at the same time," he said on social media. He gave no details about the extent of the damage or on any possible victims.