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17 people, including a 12-year-old girl, could still be trapped under the rubble of Epicenter in Kharkiv

Lilia RagutskaNews
At the site of the Russian attack on the Epicenter in Kharkiv. Source: Patrol police

As many as 17 people, including a 12-year-old girl, may have been trapped under the rubble of the targeted Epicenter in Kharkiv. The search and rescue operation at the site of the large-scale terrorist attack by Russian troops on May 25 continues.

After the occupiers struck the hypermarket, a fire broke out on an area of more than 13 thousand square meters, the destruction is enormous, and most of the victims are still unidentified. The situation as of the morning of May 26 was described by Yevhen Vasylenko, a spokesman for the Kharkiv State Emergency Service, and Volodymyr Tymoshko, head of the Kharkiv Regional Police.

After the terrible attack on the Epicenter in Kharkiv by Russian troops, the aftermath is being eliminated on the spot. The fire on the area of 13.5 thousand square meters was extinguished only after 16 hours, and rescuers are now dismantling the rubble.

According to preliminary data, 17 people could have been trapped under the rubble at the time of the attack.

"The response is ongoing, and the exact number (of victims - Ed.) will be known only after everything is cleared. The fire area after the attack amounted to 13.5 thousand square meters. The destruction is enormous," Yevhen Vasylenko, spokesman for the Kharkiv State Emergency Service, said on Novyny.LIVE.

According to the head of the Kharkiv Regional Police, 17 people who may be trapped under the rubble became known the day before. The list of missing persons, who were most likely inside the Epicenter at the time of the attack, was compiled from the words of the store's employees who could not contact their colleagues upon arrival, as well as from statements by Kharkiv residents whose relatives may have been in the store.

"This number has not changed yet. 17. It was in the evening. However, when we had the figure of 17 missing, the number of bodies was 5. Now we have found additional bodies. As of 9 a.m., there are 12 bodies," Tymoshko said.

He noted that the identities of 11 of the 12 victims are currently unknown. Experts have already taken samples from the relatives of those who are considered missing after the enemy attack who were in Kharkiv. Now the relatives of the missing from other localities are coming to the regional center to submit samples.

"We don't know yet whether there will be a DNA match between the 11 bodies (unidentified - Ed.) and the relatives. The DNA laboratory worked 24/7, all night long. It has done 23 tests so far (this is the laboratory provided by the Howard Buffett Foundation, for which we are grateful). And there are some matches. However, not all of them. That is why the number of dead may change, and the number of missing persons may change," Tymoshko emphasized.

17 people, including a 12-year-old girl, could still be trapped under the rubble of Epicenter in Kharkiv

According to the head, most of those reported missing are Epicenter employees.

"Most of them are employees, but there are also visitors. There is a 12-year-old girl among the 17 reported missing, she was a visitor," Tymoshko said.

He assured that police, rescuers, and everyone involved in the aftermath of the strike will continue to work until they have completely cleared the rubble and made sure that no one is left under it.

17 people, including a 12-year-old girl, could still be trapped under the rubble of Epicenter in Kharkiv
17 people, including a 12-year-old girl, could still be trapped under the rubble of Epicenter in Kharkiv

Tymoshko called what he saw inside the destroyed Epicenter "hell in its literal sense".

"Two impact sites of explosions of guided bomb. Everything around was turned to ash. So now we are actually dismantling every rubble, gradually, so as not to miss anything. If, God forbid, there are more victims, we want to make sure we don't miss anything and find everyone," he said.

On Saturday afternoon, May 25, Russians attacked Kharkiv with guided bombs. The invaders hit the Epicenter hypermarket and a park, and there are dead and wounded.

More than 40 people were injured in the Epicenter alone, the death toll as of 10 a.m. was 12, and more people are being searched for under the rubble.

Most of the victims have not yet been identified. Due to the massive fire that covered thousands of square meters, this can only be done through DNA testing.

The West reacted to the Russia's terrorist attack on the Epicenter. The United States and Europe pledged to bring Russia to justice for its war crimes. And the UN representatives in Ukraine called Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure "absolutely unacceptable."

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