KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s largest steel company, Metinvest, said on Friday one worker had been killed and two wounded after its Avdiyivka coke plant in east Ukraine was hit by heavy shelling, damaging the factory’s equipment and transport infrastructure.
Avdiyivka, one of the largest coke plants in Europe, is on territory controlled by government forces, but it lies close to the frontline and the Ukrainian military have accused separatists of attacks there since the ceasefire came into force in February.
“This was the heaviest shelling since the declaration of the ceasefire,” Metinvest said in a statement on Friday.
As a result of Thursday’s attack the plant is not able to ship out finished products or receive supplies of raw materials and production has fallen, it said.
Avdiyivka produces 40 percent of Ukraine’s coke and any production outages or supply issues will threaten output at the country’s steel plants, including two of the largest, which are in Mariupol, a strategic port city in the south-east.
In March, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk accused separatists of trying to destabilize Mariupol, where Russian and Ukrainian sympathizers live side by side, by disrupting supplies to its steel plants from Avdiyivka, around 100 km (70 miles) to the north.
Metinvest did not say how much production had fallen in total due to the latest attack or when output could be restored.
“Due to the destruction of the mechanical repair shop carrying out reconstruction work is extremely difficult,” it said.
Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Richard Balmforth