Emma Igual, aged 32 and from Spain, and Canadia Anthony Ihnat were killed when the vehicle they were in came under fire near Bakhmut yesterday morning (Sunday, September 10).
Four volunteers from the Road to Relief NGO, which helps evacuate wounded people from front-line areas, were trapped inside the van as it flipped over and caught fire after being struck by shells near the town of Chasiv Yar, the organisation said.
The deaths occurred as Iranian-made Russian drones targeted Kyiv and wounded at least one civilian. Road to Relief said Canadian Anthony Ihnat died in the attack, while German medical volunteer Ruben Mawick and Swedish volunteer Johan Mathias Thyr were seriously injured.
Road to Relief initally said that it could not trace the whereabouts of the van’s fourth passenger, Emma Igual, a Spanish national who was the organisation’s director. Hours later, Spain’s acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares told Spanish media that authorities in Madrid had received “verbal confirmation” of the 32-year-old’s death.
The volunteers were on their way to assess the needs of civilians on the outskirts of Bakhmut, Road to Relief said, in reference to the eastern town that saw the war’s longest and bloodiest battle before falling to Moscow in May. Ukrainian forces have held on to Bakhmut’s western suburbs and are pushing a counteroffensive in the area.
Also on Sunday, Ukrainian officials reported that Russia launched “dozens” of drones at Kyiv and the surrounding region early in the morning, wounding at least five civilians. Ukraine’s air force later said it had brought down 26 out of a total of 33 drones.
Serhii Popko reported in a Telegram post that debris from Iranian-made Shahed drones had landed in several districts of the city and wounded at least one civilian. Mr Popko said there was no risk to the person’s life, and added that most of the wreckage had fallen in open ground, although one high-rise apartment had been damaged.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko later said that one civilian was wounded in the city’s historic centre and had received help on the spot. The governor of the Kyiv region, which surrounds but does not include the capital, also reported that the drone strike had damaged an unspecified infrastructure facility there.
Ruslan Kravchenko added that private houses, a school, a kindergarten and local administration buildings had been damaged elsewhere in the province. Russia’s defence ministry said in the early hours of Sunday that Moscow’s forces had earlier destroyed three US-supplied Ukrainian speedboats that had been travelling towards Crimea. The claim could not be independently verified.
Earlier on Sunday, the ministry said in a separate statement that Russian air defences shot down eight Ukrainian drones targeting Crimea, as well as another that flew over the Bryansk region bordering Ukraine. On August 24, Ukrainian military intelligence said that its special forces landed in Crimea, which Moscow illegally took from Ukraine in 2014, and raised the Ukrainian flag along the peninsula’s western shore before leaving “without casualties”.
Ukrainian army representatives on Sunday reported further small gains near Robotyne in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where Kyiv has mounted a counteroffensive, days after Russian-installed authorities acknowledged that Russian forces had left the village. Oleksandr Shtupun, a press officer for Ukraine’s Tauride Defence Forces, said on Ukrainian TV that Kyiv’s troops had retaken a further 0.6 square miles (1.5 square kilometres) near Rabotyne, and that heavy fighting was ongoing.
“The Russians are clinging to every metre of our Ukrainian land … however, the Ukrainian Defence Forces are trying to make it as difficult as possible to supply the Russian army, and in certain areas this is bearing fruit,” Mr Shtupun said, without giving details.