Russian strikes persist as Zelenskyy speaks to U.N.

Emergency services personnel work to extinguish a fire on Thursday following a Russian attack in Cherkasy, Ukraine.
(AP/Ukrainian Emergency Service)
Emergency services personnel work to extinguish a fire on Thursday following a Russian attack in Cherkasy, Ukraine. (AP/Ukrainian Emergency Service)

KYIV, Ukraine -- Russian missiles and artillery pounded cities across Ukraine early Thursday, sparking fires, killing at least five people and trapping others under the rubble of destroyed buildings, authorities said, shortly after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced Russia as a "terrorist state" at the United Nations.

The early-morning wave of missile strikes on what's known as the International Day of Peace was the largest in more than a month and came during Zelenskyy's multiday trip to the U.S.

Air raid sirens sounded repeatedly across Ukraine, as Russia launched dozens of missiles and, near the front lines, likely used shorter-range artillery to pound cities.

Five people were killed and 10 wounded in multiple strikes in the southern Kherson region, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.

"The enemy covers Kherson region with fire all day," he said.

Seven people were injured in Kyiv, including a 9-year-old girl, Mayor Vitalii Klitschko said, as explosions or debris from intercepted missiles rained down and shattered windows in buildings and cars and left fires burning around crumpled metal wreckage.

Marharyta Moldokova, 76, who had taken shelter on the floor of her Kyiv home just before hearing an explosion and the sound of her window shattering, denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"God, we can't wait for someone to shoot him," she said. "Everything is not enough for him. ... What does he need?"

Students at the National Academy of Statistics, Accounting and Audit in Kyiv stood outdoors looking at a building where metal strips hung from the portico and empty window frames were bent inward.

Illia Melnyk said he had taken shelter behind two walls as he heard an explosion and saw a flash, and then ran outside.

"When I came out, I saw bricks falling from the door," he said. "It was visible how the wall was broken and the door was knocked out. ... It was scary."

The academy, located in Kyiv's Tatarka neighborhood, has endured numerous missile strikes and damage from falling debris. It is located near an arms maker that manufactures high-precision ammunition and missiles.

The Ukrainian air force said it had intercepted 36 of 43 cruise missiles launched deep into Ukraine. Kharkiv, closer to the front lines, was struck with S-300 missiles.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said it targeted Ukrainian arms factories and radio-technical intelligence centers with precision-guided missiles and drones. It said, without providing details, that "the strike achieved the objectives and all targets were hit." It was not possible to confirm that claim.

At least six strikes damaged civilian infrastructure in the Slobidskyi district of Kharkiv, said regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov. The city's mayor added that two people had been hospitalized.

At least 10 people were injured and at least one person was rescued from under rubble in Cherkasy, in central Ukraine, according to Ihor Klymenko, minister of internal affairs of Ukraine. As many as 23 people were feared buried in rubble from damaged buildings that included a hotel, said Cherkasy regional Governor Ihor Taburets. Rescue services were working to clear the debris.

An industrial zone was hit in the western region of Lviv, damaging buildings and starting a fire, but no information on casualties was immediately available, Klymenko added.

Regional Governor Vitalii Koval reported strikes in the city of Rivne in the northwest region of the same name, without immediately providing details.

Ukrainian armed forces said they attacked a military airport near the city of Saka in Russian-annexed Crimea.

Russia said 22 drones were taken down overnight by air defense systems, 19 above Crimea and three others in the Kursk, Belgorod and Oryol regions near Ukraine. The defense ministry did not say whether there were any casualties.

Information for this article was contributed by Samya Kullab, Vanessa Gera and Brian Melley of The Associated Press.

  photo  Students look at the damage to the institute they attend after a Russian rocket attack on Thursday in Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP/Roman Hrytsyna)