The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed Friday that 38 people had been killed in a fire in a trade union building in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa. “38 people died as a result of the fire in the trade union building in Odessa. 30 of them were asphyxiated by smoke and 8 died when jumped out of windows in an attempt to save their lives,” the statement by the ministry said. 50 people, including 10 police officers reportedly sought medical aid.
The ministry said that the fire had been already contained. Violent clashes erupted this Friday in Odessa, which previously took no active part in the unrest that swept a number of eastern Ukrainian cities.
As of late Friday four people were confirmed dead and 37 injured in clashes between supporters and opponents of federalization, as well as football fans Local media earlier reported that the unrest in the center of the city died down.
But football fans moved later to the Kulikovo field where the tent camp of anti-government activists was. The camp was surrounded and set on fire and federalization supporters were forced to shelter in the trade union building which was also set ablaze later.
An investigation into the rioting is underway. A criminal case was initiated. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced that a special commission headed by Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema had been sent to Odessa.
At least four men were killed in running battles between pro-Russian and pro-Kiev activists in Odessa on Friday, and the trade union building in the centre of the southern port city was set on fire, regional police said. Police said in a statement another man had been killed, bringing the death toll to at least four in some of the worst violence in the largely Russian-speaking Black Sea port.
Four people were killed in clashes in the centre of Ukraine’s Black Sea city of Odessa on Friday, local media reported.
According to the First National TV Channel, three of the four clash victims died from gunshot wounds.
Three policemen were wounded, including deputy chief of the Odessa police department Dmitry Fuchudzhi, local media quoted police spokeswoman Tatiana Khmelnitskaya. Apart from that, three journalists, whose names were not made public, were also injured in clashes.
One person died on Saturday from a gunshot injury sustained during mass clashes between supporters of federalization and pro-Kiev unitarists in Grecheskaya Street in Ukraine’s port city of Odessa. A spokesman for the Odessa regional police department confirmed the fatality. The wounded protester had been given first aid at the scene but died from a gunshot wound in his right lung before the ambulance arrived.
Pro-federalization activists in Odessa clashed with united Ukraine supporters, as well as with law enforcement officers who tried to break up the fight, local agency Dumskaya.net reports. Members of the Right Sector, “Self-Defense” and Maidan activists, as well as football fans from Kharkov and Odessa who participated in “For the unity of Ukraine!” march clashed with federalization proponents as soon as the event started, agency reports.
Gunshots and loud pops could be heard near Sobornaya square, and both sides are pelting each other with rocks.
Police officers desperately attempt to break up the antagonists, and the agency’s correspondent spotted blood on the pavement.
Eventually the police received reinforcements, yet both sides keep fighting the officers.
Gunfire was heard in Odessa’s downtown as two rival rallies met, police having failed to draw them apart. Over 2,000 protesters pelted each other with Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades. Pavements were dismantled to get the stones for the fight, like it was done in Kiev during the Maidan protests.
As the fire brigade arrived at the scene, the driver was forced out of the vehicle by the enraged football fans and had to flee, as a live stream showed.
At least one person has been seriously injured in the stand-off, reports Interfax. The football fans also say in Twitter that one person from their group was killed, but this is yet to be confirmed.
About 1,500 young men wearing masks and Right Sector armlets armed with chains, clubs and shields tried to stage a march along Odessa’s central streets, chanting “Glory to Ukraine”, “Death to Foes”, “Stab Moskals” (Moskal is an ethnic slur for Russians used in Ukraine), an TASS correspondent reported from the site.
They were met by activists from the Kulikovo Pole (Kulikovo Field) movement, who spoke against what they call the usurpation of power in Ukraine, for a referendum on federalization of the country and granting the Russian language the official state language status. Police failed to prevent clashes, which have spread to Deribasovskaya Street and Grecheskaya Square. A number of people have been injured. Policemen are using their shields to take injured people from the site of clashes. People are building barricades in the central streets in Odessa.