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7 killed, including 3 children, as Russian drone strike ignites fire in Kharkiv

A firefighter battles flames ignited in the wake of a Russian drone strike against a gas station Saturday in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Seven died and three were wounded in the attack, officials said. Photo by Ukrainian Interior Ministry/Telegram
A firefighter battles flames ignited in the wake of a Russian drone strike against a gas station Saturday in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Seven died and three were wounded in the attack, officials said. Photo by Ukrainian Interior Ministry/Telegram

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- At least seven people were killed overnight Saturday when Russian drones struck a gas station in the frontline city of Kharkiv, igniting a massive fire that destroyed 15 homes, local officials said.

Three children, members of the same family, were among those killed in the attack, including a 4-year-old boy and a 6-month-old baby, Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov announced in a Telegram post.

More than 50 area residents were evacuated as burning spilled fuel engulfed an area of nearly 40,000 square feet, according to Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov, who added firefighters and emergency personnel were still attempting to rescue people early as of mid-day Saturday.

Three others were wounded in the attack, he said. An emergency operations center had been set up in a nearby school. Terekhov appealed for building materials, clothes and personal hygiene products for the victims.

The bodies of five of the victims, including the three children, were found in one of the private houses, while the two other fatalities occurred at another home, acting Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said in a Telegram post.

A burned out structure is shown in the wake of a Russian drone strike against a gas station Saturday in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Seven died and three were wounded in the attack, officials said. Photo by Ukrainian Interior Ministry/Telegram
A burned out structure is shown in the wake of a Russian drone strike against a gas station Saturday in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Seven died and three were wounded in the attack, officials said. Photo by Ukrainian Interior Ministry/Telegram

The bodies of the victims were so badly burned that DNA testing is being used to identify them, he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sent condolences to the families of those killed in the attack, promising they will receive help.

"Reality always means more than any words. An entire family died last night in a fire after an attack by Shahed [drones] on Kharkiv -- parents and three children," he said in a social media post.

"The eldest son, Oleksii, was seven years old; the middle son, Mykhailo, was 4, and the youngest son, Pavlo, was seven months old. Children who had not yet seen life were killed by Russian lunacy. There was another family killed: a husband and wife. My condolences to all the relatives and friends," he wrote.

Russia "must be brought to justice for every life it has ruined and destroyed," he added.