More than 30 people were killed in a blaze in Ukraine´s southern city of Odessa, as violence spread across the country during the bloodiest day since Kiev´s Western-backed government took power.
Ukraine´s interior ministry said at least 31 people had died in the fire Friday, with local media reporting that pro-Russian militants were believed to have been in the burning building at the time.
Most of those who were killed died from smoke inhalation, while others perished trying to escape by jumping out of windows. Russia said it was “outraged” as the scenic port city became a new front in an escalating months-long crisis that has sparked fears of a Russian invasion.
The foreign ministry in Moscow called on Ukraine and its “Western backers to end the anarchy and take responsibility before the Ukrainian people”, blaming Kiev´s “criminal irresponsibility” for the sinister turn of events.
Meanwhile violent clashes continued between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian militants, with reports of renewed fighting in Slavyansk leading to the deaths of two more Ukrainian soldiers. At least nine people had been killed in violence in the flashpoint eastern town throughout the day.
President Barack Obama threatened to expand punitive sanctions to broad sections of the Russian economy if Moscow continued to foment chaos in the former Soviet republic ahead of planned May 25 presidential elections.