Shocking before and after pictures have revealed the full extent of the destruction wrought by Russian missiles on a prestigious 19th-century school in eastern Ukraine.
The Lysychansk Multidisciplinary Gymnasium, located in the town of the same name in Luhansk, was built in the late 19th century as Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region became industrialised.
Belgium, France, Britain and Switzerland poured huge sums of money into the Donbas when coalfields were discovered there in the 1800s, and several towns and cities were rapidly developed thanks to the foreign investment.
Belgium became an official partner in the region and Belgian architects were deployed to help construct infrastructure and a host of impressive buildings, of which the gymnasium was an excellent example.
But despite surviving two World Wars and constant unrest in the region since 2014 as pro-Russian separatists attempted to seize power, the reputed school and prized historic landmark was utterly decimated last Sunday by Putin’s forces.
Pictures and footage posted by Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai showed the shell of the building crumbling as flames raged throughout its storied corridors and hallways.
It comes as another attack on a different school in the Luhansk region yesterday killed two with up to 60 more feared dead as they sheltered in the school’s basement.
The Lysychansk Multidisciplinary Gymnasium, located in the town of the same name in the Luhansk region, was built in the late 19th century as Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region became industrialised. But despite surviving two World Wars and constant unrest in the region since 2014 as Moscow-backed pro-Russian separatists attempted to seize power, the reputed school and prized historic landmark was utterly decimated last Sunday by Putin’s forces
Belgium became an official partner in the region in the 1800s and Belgian architects were deployed to help construct infrastructure and a host of impressive buildings, of which the gymnasium was an excellent example
Pictures and footage posted by Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai showed the shell of the building crumbling as flames raged throughout its storied corridors and hallways
The building was constructed in the late 19th century thanks to Belgian investment in the Donbas region. It was a celebrated historic landmark until it was destroyed in Russian shelling last Sunday
‘Yesterday a fire broke out in the gymnasium as a result of targeted shelling. It burned for several hours. The fire completely destroyed more than a century-old architectural monument,’ Haidai said in a Facebook post.
‘Lysychansk Multidisciplinary Gymnasium has repeatedly been included in the ranking of the best educational institutions in Ukraine.
‘Its graduates have always passed their evaluation with high performance and entered the best higher educational institutions in the country.
‘Now the school is ashes. This is what the ”Russian world” looks like.
‘After the Victory of Ukraine, we will make every effort to restore the gymnasium!’
A graduate of the school, Yana Goncharenko, said: ‘It was created more than 100 years ago by the Belgians. It was among the top 100 schools in the country. It survived two world wars and the battle for the city in 2014, but animals without morals burned it down in 2022.’
Meanwhile, two people have been killed and 60 more are feared dead following a Russian airstrike on a school in the Ukrainian village of Bilohorivka yesterday.
Around 90 people were using the Belogorovskaya school basement as a bomb shelter when the site suffered a direct hit on Saturday evening, Haidai confirmed via the Telegram messaging app this morning.
Footage and images of the school show the extent of the destruction, with large sections of the building reduced to rubble and a team of firefighters drafted in to combat the resulting blaze.
Rescuers managed to pull thirty people out of the ruins last night, Haidai said, but up to sixty more remain trapped in the basement and are thought to have been killed.
‘The fire was extinguished after nearly four hours, then the rubble was cleared, and unfortunately the bodies of two people were found,’ Haidai wrote.
‘Sixty people are likely to have died under the rubble of buildings.’
Rescuers continued to work from the early hours, attempting to clear the remaining rubble and free any remaining survivors.
Separately, Haidai said that according to preliminary information, shelling in the village of Shypilovo destroyed a house and 11 people remained under the building’s debris.
There was no immediate response from Russian authorities.
Burning debris is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine, May 7, 2022
Only parts of the building remained standing after it suffered a direct hit from a Russian airstrike yesterday
Emergency crew stands amid the burning debris of Belogorovskaya school in the Luhansk region. Sixty people are believed to be trapped under the rubble and are feared dead
Elsewhere, Russian forces kept up their barrage of southern Ukraine, hitting the major Black Sea port of Odesa with cruise missiles and bombarding the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters remained trapped underground.
Moscow was aiming to complete its conquest of Mariupol in time for Victory Day celebrations on Monday, but Putin’s forces continue to face dogged resistance from defenders within the bunkers beneath the factory.
All civilians have now been evacuated from the besieged steel plant but hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers are still holding out against the Russian onslaught.
Western military analysts also said a Ukrainian counteroffensive was advancing around the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.
Ukraine’s military said retreating Russian forces destroyed three bridges on a road northeast of the city to try to slow the Ukrainian advance.
The largest European conflict since World War II has developed into a punishing war of attrition that has killed thousands of people, forced millions to flee their homes and destroyed large swaths of some cities.
Ukrainian leaders warned that attacks would only worsen in the lead-up to Victory Day, when Russia celebrates Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945 with military parades. Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to want to proclaim some kind of triumph in Ukraine when he addresses the troops on Red Square on Monday.