In broad daylight attack, the Russian missile struck a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Poltava region, when it was crowded with visitors.

The attack came soon after the air raid alert went on at 15.40, which probably caught many people off guard.

‘There are dead and wounded. Together with the cit cervices I am at the site of the tragedy,’ said Poltava governor Vitaly Maletskyi.

The rescue operation was soon underway while firefighters were trying to contain raging flames.

Video from the scene showed heavy smoke billowing from the building engulfed by fire. The mall is roughly 1 hectare in size, making it harder to project the number of the casualities.

‘We don’t know how many more people might be under the rubble,’ said Volodymyr Solohub, a regional official in the Poltava Oblast local administration.

Some thousand people were feared to have been caught up in the place, said Ukraine’ president Vololdymyr Zelensky in his statement on Telegram. 

‘There were still people inside when it hit: employees and some visitors.’

He called Russian troops ‘scumbag terrorists’ who ‘should have no place on Earth’, arguing it was a ‘calculated’ strike  targeting a busy shopping centre.

‘The mall is on fire, firefighters are trying to extinguish the fire, the number of victims is impossible to imagine,’ added Zelensky.