Russia blames phones for the New Year’s Day strike it says killed 89 soldiers

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Emergency crews on Wednesday are still sifting through the rubble of a building struck by Ukrainian rockets, killing at least 89 Russian soldiers barracked there, according to the Russian defence ministry. 

It said the main reason for the attack was the prohibited use of mobile phones by the troops.

An Associated Press video of the scene in Makiivka, a town in the partially Russian-occupied eastern Donetsk region, showed five cranes and emergency workers removing big chunks of concrete under a clear blue sky.

The New Year’s Day strike was one of the deadliest attacks on the Kremlin’s forces since the war began more than 10 months ago and an embarrassment that stirred renewed criticism inside Russia of the way the war is being conducted.

The Russian statement about the attack provided few other details. Other, unconfirmed reports, put the death toll much higher.

Ukraine’s armed forces’ strategic communications directorate claimed that around 400 mobilised Russian soldiers were killed in a vocational school building in Makiivka and about 300 more were wounded. That claim couldn’t be independently verified. The Russian statement said the strike occurred “in the area of Makiivka” and didn’t mention the vocational school.

For more, watch Euronews’ report in the video above.