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Deaths mount as Ukraine calls Russian mall strike a "terrorist attack"

Russian strike on busy Ukraine shopping mall
Busy Ukrainian shopping mall targeted by Russian missiles, authorities say 01:43

Kremenchuk, Ukraine — Ukrainian emergency services personnel were still searching through the rubble on Tuesday of a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, hoping to find any survivors as the death toll climbed to 18. Officials said at least 36 people were still missing.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy labelled the Monday strike on the mall in the central city of Kremenchuk a "terrorist attack," and the country's prosecutor general said it was a "crime against humanity."

While Russia has claimed the mall was closed at the time of the strike, Zelenksyy said around 1,000 people were inside it when the missile hit.  The president said it was a targeted strike by Russia against innocent civilians. 

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk
Rescuers work at a site of a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, in a handout picture released June 28, 2022 by the press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE OF UKRAINE/REUTERS

CBS News correspondent Ramy Inocencio was at the scene on Tuesday morning. He said the Amstor shopping mall had been reduced to a charred carcass of its former self.

As thick smoke swirled from the building on Monday afternoon, police shouted for people to find shelter while firefighters raced to put out the inferno and bystanders helped load victims into ambulances. 

Soon, people started gathering to pore over lists posted on walls, looking for the names of missing loved ones.

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk
Smoke rises from a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, June 27, 2022. Telegram/V_Zelenskiy_official/Handout/REUTERS

At the local hospital, a wounded Mykola Mykhailets, said he'd seen "lots of wounded people, burned people, some covered in blood." 

His wife Ludmyla was also wounded in the strike. Laying in a hospital bed next to her husband, she said the blast threw her into the air.

"It's really scary," she said. "I'd tell women who left the country with their kids, don't come back."

President Joe Biden and the other G7 leaders were meeting in the German Alps when the missile struck. They called the attack "abominable" and promised nearly $30 billion in new aid for Ukraine. 

G-7 leaders gather in Germany amid conflict between Russia and Ukraine 07:05

Zelenskyy has issued repeated, urgent requests for more modern weaponry to help Ukraine's forces defend the country from Russia's invasion, which has made gains in the eastern Donbas recently. 

Ukraine has asked for, among other things, advanced missile defense systems, to help shoot down incoming missiles like the one that hit the mall in Kremenchuk.

The front line in the war, in the Donbas, is just over 100 miles to the east of the smoldering ruins of the shopping center, and Ukrainians know it's a matter of when, not if, Russian rockets will strike again. 

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