From a distance, the double column of cars and minivans parked on a wide strip of sidewalk in a province in southern Ukraine appear frozen in time. The vehicles contain the belongings of people on a long trip: suitcases, full plastic bags and bottles of water.
But all around are signs of the violence of the strike that hit a convoy of people fleeing fighting in Zaporizhzhia province early on Friday. There’s a crater a few yards to the right of the convoy, its edges blackened. The vehicles are hailed by shrapnel, most of their tires deflated and their windows blown out.
A total of 30 people died and 88 people were injured in a Russian missile attack, according to the region’s police chief, Ihor Klymenko. Footage from the scene showed security guards removing bodies that had been placed in black plastic bags, while others were still lying on the ground.
An 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died and a 3-year-old girl was injured, he said in a Facebook post.
Natalia, who asked that her surname not be released out of concern for her safety, said she drove her car with four passengers in line and got out to stretch when the first explosion hit. sounded. “I don’t know how many explosions there were,” she said in an interview. “I lay down on the ground to wait.”
The second explosion shattered his car windows and a dozen more followed. “When it was over, I ran,” she said, walking past a grisly scene of dead and injured.
“People were lying on the ground, near their car or a little further, depending on the distance traveled, and they were dead.”
She was grazed by shrapnel, but said two of her passengers, a man and a woman, died and two others were injured. Speaking of the Russian forces, she said: “I don’t understand their logic, if there is any.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky noted the timing of the attack, which came hours before Russian President Vladimir V. Putin announced in Moscow, to much national fanfare, that Russia would take control of four Ukrainian regions, including Zaporizhzhia. The annexation has been denounced by Ukraine and the West as illegal.
“Another farce took place in Moscow today,” Mr. Zelensky said in an address Friday night. “Something was celebrated there. They were singing something over there. They sang in the square. They were talking about Zaporizhzhia, when they themselves organized such a thing in Zaporizhzhia.
The strike is the latest in a litany of large-scale attacks against civilian targets since the Russian invasion in February. These include an attack at a train station in Kramatorsk that killed 50 people in eastern Ukraine in April; a missile strike on a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk in June that killed at least 16 people; and an attack at a shopping center in the city of Vinnytsia in July that left 20 people dead. Russia has often denied responsibility or blamed Ukraine for civilian deaths.
Russia appeared to step up its strikes on eastern and southern targets in recent days. Four civilians died in Donetsk province on Friday, the head of the regional military association, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on the social messaging app Telegram. And a mother and three-month-old baby were injured in the port city of Mykolaiv overnight when a missile hit a house, according to city mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych.
Experts have questioned the military value of the attacks as Ukraine made territorial gains in the northeast of the country in September and incursions into the east.
A British military intelligence report said on Saturday that Russia could use scarce stockpiles of the type of long-range air defense missile used in the Zaporizhzhia attack.
“Russia’s stockpile of such missiles is most likely limited and a high-value resource designed to shoot down modern aircraft and incoming missiles, rather than for use against ground targets,” the report said.