Blasts hit west Ukraine after Russia fires four missiles, officials say

FILE PHOTO: A missile trace is seen in a sky near Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) - Blasts wounded two civilians and shattered several hundred windows in the west Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyi as Russia fired missiles from the Black Sea on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine's air force said Russia launched four Kalibr missiles from the Black Sea, two of which were shot down by air defences.

Two explosions were heard in Khmelnytskyi, which lies 170 miles (274 km) west of Kyiv, the regional governor said.

Oleksandr Symchyshyn, the mayor of Khmelnytskyi, said on national television that the explosions, which he blamed Russia, had wounded two people, but their injuries were not serious.

"There are three damaged educational institutions, around ten damaged high-rise apartment blocks. Around five hundred windows and balconies have been destroyed," he said.

Symchyshyn did not say if the missiles had struck their targets, or what they were aiming for.

Shortly after air raid alerts were issued nationwide on Saturday morning, authorities in several southern and eastern regions of Ukraine warned of possible precautionary power outages to limit damage to the grid in case of a strike.

Russia, which invaded its neighbour nearly a year ago, has been targeting Ukraine's energy networks with massed missile salvos since last October.

Ukraine's state nuclear company said two Russian cruise missiles flew close to the Pivdennoukrainska nuclear plant in southern Ukraine just before 08:30 AM local time (0630 GMT).

There was no word from Moscow on the missile strikes. Russia has carried out repeated waves of attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities in recent months, at times leaving millions of people without light, heating or water supplies during the cold winter.

Vitaliy Kim, the governor of the southern region of Mykolaiv, posted a picture on the Telegram messaging app of what appeared to be missile debris lying in a field.

He said it was likely to be part of a Ukrainian air defence missile.

"Let's say this - the score for shot down missiles has been opened," he wrote in another Telegram post.

(Reporting by Max Hunder. Editing by Jane Merriman)