Pro-Russian separatists said there had been an explosion.
At one time, 7000 people were employed there.
An injured woman seen inside a centre for distribution of humanitarian aid in Sievierodonetsk. Source: Getty / SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
The leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, which Russian President Vladimir Putin recognises as a state, Leonid Pasechnik, said on Tuesday that two-thirds of the city was now under the control of pro-Russian forces.
Mr Gaidai said Russian shelling had made it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies or allow people to leave.
Foreign military analysts say Russia has drained manpower and firepower from across other parts of the front to concentrate on Sievierodonetsk, hoping a massive offensive will achieve one of its stated aims – to secure surrounding Luhansk province for separatist proxies.
An injured woman receives first aid at a centre for distribution of humanitarian aid in Sievierodonetsk after the city was hit by Russian shelling. Source: AAP / SOPA Images/Sipa USA
Fighting was raging in the city but Russian forces were not advancing as rapidly as might have been hoped, he said, claiming that they wanted to “maintain the city’s infrastructure” and moved slowly because of caution around chemical factories.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council aid agency which had long operated out of Sievierodonetsk, said he was “horrified” by its destruction.
“We fear that up to 12,000 civilians remain caught in crossfire in the city, without sufficient access to water, food, medicine or electricity,” he said.
In the south, Ukraine claimed in recent days to have pushed back Russian forces to the border of Russian-held Kherson province.
Ukraine and its allies call this a baseless pretext for a war to seize territory.
The country’s top prosecutor said Ukraine has identified more than 600 Russian war crime suspects and started prosecuting about 80.
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