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Explosions rock Ukraine city of Mykolaiv, a day after deadly strikes near Odesa

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Powerful blasts struck Ukraine’s Mykolaiv in the early hours of Saturday, a day after authorities said 21 people had been killed in Russian missile strikes near Odessa, on the Black Sea. Follow the latest developments here on our live blog, which is regularly updated as the events of the day unfold. All times are Paris time, GMT+2.

6:35 a.m.: Explosion destroys Mykolaiv in Ukraine, mayor says

Powerful explosions rocked the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv early on Saturday, the mayor said, a day after authorities said at least 21 people were killed when Russian missiles hit an apartment building near the port of Odessa on the Black Sea.

Before the blast, air-raid sirens sounded over the Mykolaiv region, which borders the vital export port of Odessa.

“There are powerful explosions in the city! Stay in shelter!” The mayor of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Senkevich, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

It was not immediately known what caused the explosions. Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.

11:50 PM: US sends Ukraine two surface-to-air missile systems

The United States is sending Ukraine two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, four additional counter-artillery radars and up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition as part of its latest weapons packages for Ukraine, the Pentagon said Friday.

The aid package, worth about $820 million, was widely announced in Madrid on Thursday by US President Joe Biden after a meeting of NATO leaders focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Ukrainians are still facing a brutality that was highlighted again this week by an attack on a shopping center full of civilians. They continue to fight for their country and the United States continues to support them and their just cause,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on the aid.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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