LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Emergency crews are still clearing the rubble and searching for bodies in the aftermath of a Russian missile attack on an apartment building in the Ukrainian city of Dnieper. It's one of the deadliest attacks on civilians away from the frontline since Russia's war started. More than 40 people were killed, including children. NPR's Elissa Nadworny is covering this story from Dnieper, and she joins us now. Good morning, Elissa.
ELISSA NADWORNY, BYLINE: Good morning.
FADEL: So you visited what's left of this nine-story apartment building. What did you see?
NADWORNY: Well, there's a crater right in the center of a huge apartment complex. The middle section, which used to be about a dozen of people's homes, is now just missing. On one of the top floors, you can see right into a kitchen, just hanging off.
This was part of a massive Russian missile attack on Saturday. Most targets were the power grid or infrastructure. That's been the pattern these past few months. But that's not what happened here. U.K. military intelligence said the Russian missile used here was, quote, "notoriously inaccurate." Russia says the strikes Saturday were only on military targets. They blame the tragedy on a Ukrainian air defense missile that went awry, which Ukraine denies.
FADEL: So many people's lives destroyed, lives lost. And this attack was in an area that's been largely spared from the attacks we've seen elsewhere recently, right?
NADWORNY: Yeah, that's right. Dnieper is considered a safe haven. It's a bustling city where a lot of displaced Ukrainians from further east live. Petro Shevchenko is 85 and lives alone on the seventh floor. He got trapped for about two hours under the rubble.
PETRO SHEVCHENKO: (Non-English language spoken).
NADWORNY: His face is all cut up, but he says he's just grateful to be alive.
NADWORNY: Emergency workers carried him out of the building because he could hardly walk. Larysa Shevchenko survived the attack by sheltering in a corridor on the eighth floor with her two children, ages 6 and 10, and one of her son's friends.
LARYSA SHEVCHENKO: (Non-English language spoken).
NADWORNY: She remembers seeing a fireball out the window. But once they got outside, they found a friend of her son. He'd been playing on the playground when the missile hit. His parents were inside, he told her.
L SHEVCHENKO: (Non-English language spoken).
NADWORNY: Shevchenko remembers through tears that the little boy asked her, will I be without a mother now? She says she later found out that both of the boy's parents had died in the attack.
FADEL: Oh, my God. That's absolutely devastating. So the attack was Saturday. Are the Ukrainians still hoping to find survivors three days later now?
NADWORNY: Well, yesterday at the site, there were still dozens of rescue workers cleaning the debris, but officials now say they're no longer expecting to find any more people alive.
SERHII SHOVA: (Non-English language spoken).
NADWORNY: Only the dead are left, says Serhii Shova. He's the team leader of the emergency crew working here. He says there are bodies still trapped. Rescue workers can see them, but they haven't been able to reach them, or it's been too dangerous to get them. He told us the last person he rescued alive was on Sunday, a woman on the fourth floor. He said her 1-year-old baby and her husband did not survive.
FADEL: Only the dead are left. And this is miles from the frontlines. What's happening on the battlefield?
NADWORNY: Well, heavy fighting is still happening in the eastern part of the country, and it's not going to end anytime soon. I mean, while they wait for new weapons here in Ukraine, they're watching joint drills between Russia and Belarus warily. They started on Monday. They're worried about the possibility of an attack from there.
FADEL: NPR's Elissa Nadworny in Dnieper, Ukraine. Thank you for your reporting, Elissa.
NADWORNY: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.