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More than 60 feared dead in bombing of Ukrainian school

ZAPORIZHZHIA, UKRAINE (AP) – More than 60 people were feared dead on Sunday after a Russian bomb flattened a school being used as a shelter, Ukrainian officials said, while Moscow’s forces pressed their attack on defenders inside Mariupol’s steel plant in an apparent race to capture the city ahead of Russia’s Victory Day holiday.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “appalled” by the reported school bombing on Saturday in the eastern village of Bilohorivka and called it another reminder that “it is civilians that pay the highest price” in war.

Authorities said about 90 people were sheltering in the basement. Emergency crews found two bodies and rescued 30 people, but “most likely all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead”, Governor of Luhansk province Serhiy Haidai, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian shelling also killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, he said.

Luhansk is part of the Donbas, the industrial heartland in the east that Russia’s forces are working to capture.

A child and her family who fled from Mariupol arrive at a reception centre for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. PHOTO: AP

As Moscow prepared to celebrate the 1945 surrender of Nazi Germany with a Victory Day military parade, a line-up of Western leaders and celebrities made surprise visits to Ukraine in a show of support.

United States (US) First Lady Jill Biden met with her Ukrainian counterpart. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised his country’s flag at its embassy in Kyiv. And U2’s Bono, alongside bandmate The Edge, performed in a Kyiv subway station that had been used as a bomb shelter, singing the 1960s song Stand by Me.

The Acting United States (US) ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien, posted a picture of herself at the American Embassy, and described plans for the eventual US return to the Ukrainian capital after Moscow’s forces abandoned their effort to storm Kyiv weeks ago and began focussing on the capture of the Donbas.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and others warned in recent days that Russian attacks would only worsen in the lead-up to Victory Day, and some cities declared curfews or cautioned people against gathering in public.

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