Espreso. Global

Russian airstrike on Kharkiv hypermarket: death toll rises to 19

29 May, 2024 Wednesday

On May 25, Russian army dropped bombs on the construction hypermarket in Kharkiv. As of May 29, 19 people were confirmed killed


Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, announced this on May 29.

"Terrorist Russian bombing of a hypermarket. 19 people were killed. 54 people were injured," he wrote and noted that the search and rescue operation is ongoing.

Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov announced the discovery of the remains of the 18th victim at 5:25 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28.

"The remains of the 18th victim have just been found in the Epicenter hypermarket," he wrote.

As Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dmytro Chubenko noted on Espreso earlier, the number of killed is still being established, but there is no reason to believe that more than 18 people died.

"As of now, we have 17 bodies. 16 of these bodies have been identified. One person has not been identified yet, as DNA examinations are still ongoing. The search for the bodies continues on the spot, as it is a very large area and there was a large-scale fire. I am looking at every burnt part to see if it is a body fragment. So far, there is no reason to believe that the number of killed was more than 18. State Emergency Service employees, investigators, forensic experts, and prosecutors are working to establish the exact number of victims," he said.

The prosecutor's office spokesman said that the prosecutor's office, together with the police, is examining several more body fragments to determine whether they are the remains of one of those already found or the body fragments of an 18th person.

"At the time of the rubble removal, 13 bodies were found and identified, and there were five more statements from relatives that people were in the store and went missing. Accordingly, we are guided by the figure of 18 people, but we do not exclude that there could have been more people," he added.

Earlier, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, Oleh Syniehubov, reported on the progress of the search operations.

“About 50% of the rubble of the hypermarket has already been dismantled. As of now, we have information about 17 people who died. The work continues,” he said in the afternoon on May 28. 

He added that the death toll has risen to 18, 48 people were injured, 5 people remain missing.

On the morning of May 27, the spokesperson for the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office, Dmytro Chubenko, told Radio Liberty that the number of dead could be at least 18.

"As of now, at least about 18 people are likely victims. These are 11 bodies that have already been found and seven statements (from relatives - ed.) where the fate of people remains unclear. The examination is ongoing, we have a rough idea of the numbers (of the dead - ed.), and we understand the location of the people who died, as we have CCTV footage. We are now working to find these bodies. There are no unresolved problems or problems that cannot be solved. But the theoretical threat that we will not be able to find someone is real," Chubenko said.

The prosecutor's spokesman also explained that the fire had severely damaged the bodies of the victims, making it difficult to identify them. According to him, under normal conditions, identification by DNA samples takes several hours.

"If it is the body of a deceased person who is not damaged, it is not burnt, then with the help of a mobile DNA laboratory, rapid tests, it can be done in a few hours. In situations where DNA material is taken from a deceased person who was at the epicentre of the fire, it is very difficult to take the material itself for comparison. Under normal conditions, the material is collected from the skin, hair, and saliva.In situations where the body is burned, they try to take samples at least from the bones or internal fragments that were not destroyed by the fire. These samples are not always of high quality, so there are repeated samples and repeated DNA tests, and this complicates the identification process," Chubenko explained.

According to the prosecutor's office spokesperson, the store's territory is very large, and there is almost nothing left of some of the bodies.

The city council declared May 27 a day of mourning, and entertainment music is banned in Kharkiv at markets, in trade and catering establishments, etc.

Earlier, as of the evening of May 26, there were 14 dead and 44 injured. 

"We have identified 11 victims, including a 12-year-old girl and her mother. Four fragments of human bodies were also found. Currently, 7 people are missing," prosecutors said.

Surveillance video showed that at least 20 people were at the epicentre of the explosions.  

Earlier, on May 26, Kharkiv City Council member Artem Revchuk shared the information on Espreso.

“Yesterday was a truly tragic day. Just yesterday, we were remembering the victims of the printing house tragedy, and I thought it couldn't get any more cynical. There are no words. Then, at 4 p.m., the Russians struck the Epicenter with two guided bombs, where hundreds of people were present. It was a day off, and people had likely gone there to buy supplies to repair damage. By the morning, we knew that 12 people had been identified and that 68 people were wounded in the two strikes—one on the Epicenter and another on the city center,” Revchuk said.

The city council member also suggests that Russian troops conduct targeted reconnaissance before striking.

“There are definitely drones flying around the Kharkiv region, they have a small wingspan and fly at an altitude of several kilometers, I think it's a SuperCam. It can't be shot down at that altitude, it both adjusts fire and reconnoiters. Unfortunately, there are also those in the city who betray, you can see it, for more than a week now they have been striking directly at crowds of people, that's what I see,” he emphasized.

As of the morning of May 26, Mayor Terekhov reported that the number of victims had risen to 43.

Timeline of events on May 25

"Two guided aerial bombs hit Pivnichna Saltivka," Kharkiv mayor said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, Oleh Syniehubov, said that the enemy had struck a settlement in the Kharkiv district. As of 10:45 a.m., one person was reported wounded in the attack.

At 16:02, Terekhov again reported explosions.

"Preliminary, they bombarded a residential area of the city, in a dense civilian area. Information about the victims and damage is being clarified. All relevant services will work at the site of the hit," he said. Later, he added that the bomb hit a construction hypermarket.  

"We have information about casualties and injuries, but it needs to be clarified," Terekhov said, adding that a massive fire started on the site.

As of 16:26, according to Syniehubov, one person was reported dead and at least four wounded. A fire broke out on the site covering 15,000 square metres.

Later it became known about the second victim, Terekhov said. "We already know about two dead," he wrote. Terekhov added that many people are missing, many are injured.

"Apparently, the attack was aimed at the shopping centre, where there were many people — this is pure terrorism," the mayor said.

At 17:22, Syniehubov noted that the number of injured had increased to 24 people.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's statement on the attack on the Kharkiv construction hypermarket emphasizes:

“As of now, it is known that more than 200 people could have been in the hypermarket.”

Kharkiv Mayor Terekhov, speaking to TV channels from the scene, said that 15 employees of the shopping center had not been contacted.

The State Emergency Service noted that extinguishing the fire is complicated by the presence of a significant amount of flammable materials and the possible further spread of the fire to nearby warehouses. At the same time, there is a constant threat of repeated Russian bombardment.

How many people were inside the hypermarket during the Russian attack? 

Dmytro Chubenko, a spokesman for the Kharkiv regional prosecutor's office, told that the number of people who were in the Epicenter shopping center in Kharkiv at the time of the Russian bombardment will be determined using video camera footage.

Currently, prosecutors have recovered servers from the mall's video cameras to find out how many people were inside.

“ We have already received about 10 appeals from relatives of people who were inside. They are now considered missing. It's important that these servers with video cameras will help to calculate how many people were inside, because due to the strong fire, the bodies may be severely mutilated or nothing will remain of them at all. The presence of video will confirm that a person was there,” said Chubenko.

As of 18:12, the number of wounded has increased to 25, Syniehubov said.

“Two people died. They were men who worked in the hypermarket. At least 25 are wounded. Some of the hypermarket staff are still being searched for. The data is being updated,” he said.

Also, according to the head of the Regional Military Administration, the fire was localized.

At 18:38, Syniehubov said that the number of wounded as a result of the enemy's attack on the hypermarket had increased to 33. Later, Terekhov reported two more wounded, bringing the total to 35.

According to the city and regional authorities, as of 22:00, the number of victims was as follows:

  • dead - 6 
  • wounded - 40
  • missing - 16

In addition, at 17:15, another Russian strike was reported - this time on Central Park.

According to Terekhov, the attack hit the ground near the sports site. No one was injured.

By the morning of May 26, the number of people killed in the Epicenter had increased to 12. According to the prosecutor's office, 10 bodies have not yet been identified. At the same time, 43 people were injured.

According to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko, it took over 16 hours to extinguish the fire in the Kharkiv construction hypermarket. At 9:31 a.m., he said that rescuers had completely extinguished the fire.

The headquarters of the police investigation department and a forensic laboratory are working at the scene. Biological samples have been taken from 10 people who have already contacted the police. 

According to the latest data, the death toll from Russian air strikes on a construction hypermarket in Kharkiv on May 25 has risen to 15.


Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the Investigative Department of the Kharkiv Regional Police, published a video from surveillance cameras inside the Epicenter at the time of the hit.

In the morning, reports updated that the number of victims of a missile strike in the center of Kharkiv had increased to 25, including a 14-year-old boy. 

In total, 12 people were killed and 68 civilians were injured as a result of Russian strikes on Kharkiv yesterday.

  • On the night of Saturday, May 25, Russia attacked Kharkiv and Kharkiv district with missiles, partially destroying a lyceum. 
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