Ukraine Day 961: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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A powerful blast was reported in the separatist-held Makeyevka area this morning.
According to reports on social media, the blast occurred at around 6:50 this morning.
English Lugansk gathers and translates locals’ tweets:
The Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk claimed that a fuel tanker had been blown up by a landmine set by Ukrainian saboteurs.
Meanwhile news sites Novosti Donbassa and 62.ua cited local reports that the vehicle that exploded had actually been carrying ammunition. According to these reports, the blast occurred near an abandoned gas station.
Eduard Basurin, military spokesman for the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR), claimed that one Russia-backed fighter was killed and another wounded.
The blast wave, Basurin said, knocked out windows in six schools, three kindergartens, a medical training facility and several houses.
Photos from the Tipichnaya Makeyevka VKontakte group:
Corresponding with the tweets about dips in voltage at the time of the blast, Basurin said that an electrical substation had been knocked out, leaving the Shcheglovskaya-Glubokaya mine without power.
This afternoon, the DNR “Energy Ministry” reported that miners were still being evacuated.
Heavy fighting was reported yesterday.
According to the Ukrainian military ATO Press Center, Russia-backed forces conducted 68 attacks yesterday, using heavy mortars and artillery on several occasions.
The ATO Press Center reports that Ukrainian positions in Avdeyevka and Novoselovka Vtoraya, north of Donetsk, were shelled with 120 mm mortars.
In the south, 82-mm mortars were reportedly used near Talakovka, just outside Mariupol.
Meanwhile, in the Lugansk region, the military reports intense shelling near Novoaleksandrovka and Novozvanokva, from 120- and 82-mm mortars, 122-mm artillery, infantry fighting vehicles and anti-aircraft artillery.
Heavy fighting was also reported near Stanitsa Luganskaya, northeast of separatist-held Lugansk city.
The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) has announced it will pay for electricity for water infrastructure in the Lugansk region.
According to the head of the ICRC in Ukraine, Alain Aeschlimann, the measure is a stop-gap solution to ensure water supplies to civilians on both sides of the front line:
For over a week, water stations located in the government-controlled area of the Lugansk region have had no electricity supply as a result of unpaid bills and, as a result, have stopped functioning. Maintaining water supplies to hospitals, schools, orphanages and social institutions, is vital.
The ICRC raised its concern to all those involved in negotiations on the issue to find ways to pay for the water provided by installations located in government-controlled areas and supplied to non-government controlled areas. It also expressed its readiness to act as a neutral intermediary for fixing technical issues.
Of particular concern is knock-on damage that this situation could cause to the whole heating system. Pipes could freeze and crack with no hot water running through them. People may be led to rely on electric heating systems which risk overloading the electricity network.
— Pierre Vaux