LVIV, Ukraine — Several rockets hit the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Saturday as President Joe Biden visited the capital of Poland, whose border is just 45 miles away. The powerful blasts scared a city that had been a haven for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Russian assault on other parts of Ukraine.
Thick black smoke billowed from the first explosion site on the northeast outskirts of the city for hours before a second round of explosions was reported.
Regional Governor Maxym Kozytsky said on Facebook that early indications were that five people were injured in the first attack, but did not specify what the two rockets hit. Hours later, he reported three more explosions outside the city, again without any details.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi called the second round a rocket attack, saying it caused significant damage to an unspecified “infrastructure object”.
Lviv had been largely untouched since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, although missiles hit an aircraft repair factory near the international airport a week ago.=-0p
Back-to-back attacks on Saturday chilled residents and displaced Ukrainians who saw Lviv as a relatively safe place to rebuild their lives. Home to around 700,000 people before the invasion, the city absorbed many more.
In a dark, crowded bomb shelter under a building a few steps from the first blast site, Olana Ukrainets couldn’t believe she had to go into hiding again. She had fled to Lviv from Kharkiv, one of the most bombed cities of the Russian invasion.
“We were on one side of the street and we saw it on the other side,” the 34-year-old computer scientist said of the explosion. “We saw the fire. I said to my friend, ‘What is this?’ Then we heard the sound of an explosion and glass breaking. We tried to hide between the buildings. I don’t know what the target was.
She had felt relieved after fleeing to Lviv, so much so that the air raid sirens were no longer scary.
“I was sure that all these alarms would have no result. I mean sometimes when I heard them at night, I just stayed in bed,” she said. “Today I changed my mind and I should go into hiding every time. … None of the Ukrainian cities are safe now.
There was no immediate word on the total number of casualties in Saturday’s attacks, but survivors were worried. A few witnesses said they had shopped nearby, although the area was partly industrial.
“We saw many ambulances coming,” said Inga Kapitula, a 24-year-old computer scientist who said she was 100 or 200 meters (yards) from the first attack and felt the wave of shock. “It was really close.”
Follow all AP stories about Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.
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