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Ukrainian mayor says 21 killed as school and community center hit by Russian artillery strike

Civilian deaths rise from brutal Russian siege
Civilian deaths rise from brutal Russian siege in Ukraine 04:02

Twenty-one people have been killed by Russian artillery that destroyed a school and a community center in Merefa, near the northeast city of Kharkiv, officials said. Merefa Mayor Veniamin Sitov said the attack occurred just before dawn on Thursday.
The Kharkiv region, like most other major population centers in eastern Ukraine, has seen heavy bombardment as stalled Russian forces try to advance in the area.

A view shows a school building destroyed by an airstrike in the town of Merefa
A school building destroyed by an airstrike as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Merefa, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, is seen in a handout photo released March 17, 2022. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout/REUTERS

Earlier this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke with the mayor of Kharkiv — Ukraine's second largest city — in an effort to help people in her constituency understand what's going on in Ukraine, and to tell her counterpart that more supplies and aid were on their way. 

"The strikes from the sky are everyday and every hour," Mayor Ihor Terekhov told Lightfoot in the video call, part of which was aired by CBS Chicago. "Bombings (of) peaceful residential buildings. Victims everywhere."

"We will continue to send all the aid that we can," Lightfoot told him.

An apartment building damaged by shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv, March 8, 2022. SERGEY BOBOK/AFP/Getty

Chernihiv, northwest of Kharkiv but just as close to the Russian border, has also been pummeled by Russian missile and artillery strikes for weeks. Ukraine's emergency service said a hostel there was shelled, killing a mother, father and three of their children, including 3-year-old twins.

Police in Chernihiv said in a Facebook post that Russia's military assault on the city had killed at least 53 people on Wednesday alone, including 10 who the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said were gunned down while "standing in line for bread."

"CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell traveled to the Ukraine-Poland border as Russia's invasion of Ukraine triggered the fastest refugee displacement crisis in Europe since World War II. O'Donnell shares firsthand accounts from Ukrainian refugees and looks at how NATO is preparing while Russia pushes the war in Ukraine close to Poland's border in the 30-minute documentary "Norah O'Donnell Reports: Crisis in Ukraine," premiering Friday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET on the CBS News app.

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