IAN GALLAGHER witnesses defiance of fire chief as Vladimir Putin’s missiles rain down on Lviv

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Silhouetted against a wall of flames, firefighters battle to control an oil depot inferno after a devastating Russian cruise missile attack on Lviv.

When the fire was finally brought under control 13 hours later, Chrystyna Avdyeyeva, chief of the city’s emergency services, let out a defiant battle cry.

“The boys have been through hell,” Miss Avdyeyeva said. “This fire was started by non-humans. Let them burn in the same hell.’

Three rockets fired through the western Ukrainian city on Saturday afternoon, setting fires that blazed through the night.

Black smoke drifted from the depot into Lviv’s historic center, holding back weekend shoppers.

Five people were injured in the attack, but no one was killed.

“The third blow threw me to the ground, which moved as if an earthquake was going on,” said security guard Yaroslav Prokopiv.

Ukraine’s interior ministry said the attack was part of a campaign to destroy fuel and storage depots and it would now disperse stocks from both.

Shielded against a wall of flames, firefighters, pictured, fight to control an oil depot inferno after a devastating Russian cruise missile attack on Lviv

Shielded against a wall of flames, firefighters, pictured, fight to control an oil depot inferno after a devastating Russian cruise missile attack on Lviv

Local resident Valentina Demura, 70, reacts next to the building where her apartment, destroyed during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, is located in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol

Local resident Valentina Demura, 70, reacts next to the building where her apartment, destroyed during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, is located in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol

Local resident Valentina Demura, 70, reacts next to the building where her apartment, destroyed during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, is located in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol

Five people were injured in the attack, but no one was killed.  Pictured: A civilian is evacuated from Irpi

Five people were injured in the attack, but no one was killed.  Pictured: A civilian is evacuated from Irpi

Five people were injured in the attack, but no one was killed. Pictured: A civilian is evacuated from Irpi

Lviv, a UNESCO World Heritage city whose churches, coffeehouses and trams are reminiscent of Vienna, has been a safe haven for tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting in the east of the country.

It was untouched by the war, but the 720,000 inhabitants were asked to stay indoors or take shelter after the attack on the depot.

Two hours after the warning was issued, three more missiles rained down on a factory used to repair tanks, anti-aircraft systems and radar stations.

The factory is behind a high-security roadblock in a densely populated area in the southeast of the city.

There were no reports of casualties.

Dmitry Leonov, a 36-year-old IT worker who lives nearby, said his windows rattled after the initial explosion: “I took refuge in a shelter, but my friend, who was walking his dog, was backed off by the police.” . of the explosion.’

Footage of an apartment building showed three explosions, seconds apart, and a fireball went up into the sky.

Plumes of smoke then rose high above the surrounding apartment buildings.

The Russian Defense Ministry said yesterday it had hit military targets in Lviv.

The Russian armed forces launched a rocket attack on Saturday, March 26, pictured, with high-precision weapons on the objects of Ukraine's military infrastructure.

The Russian armed forces launched a rocket attack on Saturday, March 26, pictured, with high-precision weapons on the objects of Ukraine's military infrastructure.

The Russian armed forces launched a rocket attack on Saturday, March 26, pictured, with high-precision weapons on the objects of Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the attack destroyed a large depot that he claimed supplied fuel to Ukrainian troops in combat areas.

The facility was hit with long-range weapons launched from the sea, he added.

Konashenkov said similar weapons had destroyed a second target – a “military supply depot.”

Lviv police have arrested two men on suspicion of espionage and accused them of ‘sending information to Russian recipients’.

The strikes came hours before Joe Biden strongly condemned Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a speech in Warsaw.

Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi said Putin tried to say “hello” to the US president.

In an overcrowded bomb shelter under an apartment building a short distance from the site of the first explosion, Olana Ukrainets said she couldn’t believe she’d had to hide again after fleeing Kharkov, one of the war’s most bombed cities.

‘We stood on one side of the street and saw it on the other’, says the 34-year-old ICT professional.

“We’ve seen fire. I said to my friend, “What is this?” Then we heard the sound of an explosion and breaking glass.’

Lviv is home to an estimated 200,000 people who have fled other bombed cities and has been a stopover for most of the 3.8 million refugees who have left Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24.

Firefighters, pictured, attempt to put out the fire as flames and smoke rise after Russian guided missiles hit fuel tanks as Russian attacks continue on Ukraine, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv

Firefighters, pictured, attempt to put out the fire as flames and smoke rise after Russian guided missiles hit fuel tanks as Russian attacks continue on Ukraine, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv

Firefighters, pictured, attempt to put out the fire as flames and smoke rise after Russian guided missiles hit fuel tanks as Russian attacks continue on Ukraine, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv

The city is about 45 miles from the Polish border.

Russia insists it has ended the first phase of the conflict and claims it is shifting its focus to the disputed areas of eastern Ukraine.

Pentagon intelligence said Moscow had halted ground operations targeting Kiev and instead shifted its focus to attacking the eastern Donbas region.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, residents, including the elderly, the sick and injured, fled from Irpin, the besieged suburb of Kiev.

Most were driven in private cars, ambulances and Red Cross vehicles to a roadblock and on to central Kiev before coming to safety in the west.

Authorities in the capital warned that Russians are increasingly disguising themselves as civilians to commit sabotage.

In the second city of Kharkov, which has been the target of heavy bombing for weeks, authorities reported 44 artillery attacks and 140 rocket attacks in one day, including an attack on a hospital and a humanitarian aid center that killed four people, authorities said.

This shows a Russian tank destroyed after a battle in the town of Trostyanets, Sumy . region

This shows a Russian tank destroyed after a battle in the town of Trostyanets, Sumy . region

This shows a Russian tank destroyed after a battle in the town of Trostyanets, Sumy . region

But musicians there gave an emotional concert yesterday at a subway station used as a makeshift shelter.

It was the opening day of the Kharkiv Music Festival, which artists, regardless of the circumstances, were determined to celebrate.

By the end of the day, they had something to celebrate as Ukrainian forces launched counter-attacks to successfully recapture a number of villages around the city.

That success was also repeated elsewhere in several strategic cities, including Trostianets, near the Russian border in the Sumy region.

It was one of the first places to come under Moscow’s control.

Photos showed Ukrainian soldiers and civilians between badly damaged buildings and what appeared to be abandoned or smoldering Russian tanks and other military equipment.

The city was taken by Putin’s troops on March 1.

Poltavka and Malynivka, towns in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhya, were also liberated by Ukrainian forces after heavy fighting.

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