Rescuers on Sunday recovered 15 bodies after a Russian missile strike hit a residential building in Chasiv Yar town, eastern Ukraine,  officials said.

“During the rescue operation, 15 bodies were found at the scene and five people were pulled out of the rubble,” alive, the local branch of the Ukrainian emergency service said on Facebook, adding that rescuers were in contact with three people alive under the rubble.

“The rescue operation is underway,” Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram, after the four-storey building was hit by a Russian Uragan missile. “At least 30 others are under the rubble.”

The building was partially destroyed, AFP correspondents reported after arriving at the scene where rescuers with a mechanical digger were clearing the area.

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“I was in the bedroom, I came out and everything started shaking, collapsing. What saved me was the force of the explosion pushing me into the bathroom, covered in blood. I barely got out,” a resident who did not wish to give her name told AFP.

Having endured long battles to capture cities in the neighbouring Lugansk region, Russia is now trying to push deeper into Donetsk to consolidate its hold over the entire Donbas region in the east.

One of the officials leading the rescue operation, Vyacheslav Boytso, said contact had been established  with three people who were alive under the ruins.

“There is a chance to find them… They have enough air, they can breathe. They told us they are waiting to be saved,” he told AFP.

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According to the governor, 591 civilians have been killed while 1,548 others have been injured so far in the Donetsk region since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

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