Much of Ukraine remained without heat or power after the most devastating Russian air strikes on its energy grid so far, and in Kyiv residents were warned to brace for further attacks and stock up on water, food and warm clothing.
Ukrenergo, which oversees Ukraine's national power grid, said 50 percent of demand in Ukraine was not being met as of 7 p.m. Kyiv time (1700 GMT) after key energy facilities were hit and it could not say when everything would be fully restored.
In the capital Kyiv, a city of three million, 60 per cent of residents were without power amid temperatures well below freezing, mayor Vitaly Klitschko said.
“We understand that missile strikes like this could happen again. We have to be ready for any developments,” he added, according to Kyiv city council.
Ukrenergo said power would first be reconnected to sites of critical infrastructure - the gas distribution network, water supply networks, sewage systems and hospitals. Domestic consumers would be gradually reconnected, it added.
Viewed from space, Ukraine has become a dark patch on the globe at night, satellite images released by NASA showed, following repeated attacks by Russian missiles in recent weeks.
Ukrainian authorities have set up “invincibility centers”, sometimes in tents, where people can charge phones, warm up and get hot drinks.
“It is the second day we are without power and food. More than 60 children are waiting for food and we cannot prepare anything unless power gets fixed,” said a woman at one such center in Kyiv.
Russia's latest missile barrage killed 10 people and shut down all of Ukraine's nuclear power plants for the first time in 40 years.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview with the Financial Times that this week's strike had created a situation not seen for 80 or 90 years - “a country on the European continent where there was totally no light.”
By early evening, officials said a reactor at one nuclear plant, Khmelnytskyi, had been reconnected to the grid.
The vast Zaporizhzhia plant in Russian-held territory was reconnected yesterday, Ukrainian nuclear power company Energoatom said.
Since early October, Russia has attacked energy targets across Ukraine about once a week, each time firing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of missiles to destroy the power grid.
Moscow acknowledges attacking basic infrastructure, saying its aim is to reduce Ukraine's ability to fight and push it to negotiate. Kyiv says such attacks are clearly intended to harm civilians, making them a war crime.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was Kyiv's fault Ukrainians were suffering because it refused to yield to Moscow's demands, which he did not spell out. Ukraine says it will only stop fighting when all Russian forces have left.
Nuclear officials say interruptions in power can disrupt cooling systems and cause an atomic disaster.
“There is a real danger of a nuclear and radiation catastrophe being caused by firing on the entire territory of Ukraine with Russian cruise and ballistic missiles,” Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom said. “Russia must answer for this shameful crime.”