Russian missile attack on Odesa kills one, damages cathedral

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People inside the Odesa Transfiguration Cathedral, heavily damaged in a Russian missile attack in Odesa, Ukraine, July 23, 2023 [Libkos/AP Photo]

Ukrainian officials say air attack wounded 19 people, including several children, and severely damaged Odesa’s largest cathedral.

A Russian missile attack on the Ukrainian port city of Odesa has killed at least one person, wounded 19 and badly damaged an Orthodox cathedral, according to officials.

Oleg Kiper, the governor of Odesa, said on the Telegram messaging app that those wounded in Sunday’s air attack included several children.

“Odesa, another night attack of the monsters,” he said.

“Fourteen people were hospitalised in the city’s hospitals, three of them were children,” he said.

The assault also destroyed six houses and apartment buildings, he added.

Russia has been pounding Odesa and other Ukrainian food export facilities nearly daily over the past week after it withdrew from a United Nations-brokered sea corridor agreement that allowed for the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain.

Ukraine’s air force said on Telegram on Sunday that Russia launched high-precision Onyx missiles and sea-to-shore Kalibr cruise missiles on Odesa.

The city’s military administration said air defence systems destroyed a “significant part” of the missiles, which they said included Iskander ballistic missiles.

It added that the Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral of the Moscow-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) was severely damaged.

“The Kasperovska icon of the Mother of God, who is the patroness of Odesa, was retrieved from under the rubble,” the administration said on its Telegram channel.

The Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral, or the Transfiguration Cathedral, is Odesa’s largest Orthodox church building. It was consecrated in 1809.

Photos and videos published by Odesa officials and the police showed parts of the building destroyed and rubble inside, with several icons lined up on the ground.

In one video, a distressed man is seen walking inside the dark cathedral, repeating, “The church is no longer … Lord, have mercy.”

Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the videos or reports of the damage.

The UOC is Ukraine’s second-largest church, though most Ukrainian Orthodox believers belong to a separate branch of the faith formed four years ago by uniting branches independent of Russian authority.

Ukraine has accused the UOC of maintaining links to the pro-invasion Russian Orthodox Church, which used to be its parent church but with which the UOC says it broke ties in May last year.

There was no immediate comment from Russia.

Russia had described its recent attacks as revenge for a Ukrainian strike on a Russian-built bridge to Crimea – the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized in 2014.

It has accused Ukraine of using the sea corridor to launch “terrorist attacks”.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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