Thousands of residents of the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiyivka are living with little or no access to electricity or water amidst subzero winter cold, prompting aid agencies to warn of a possible humanitarian crisis. Residential areas of the government-controlled town have been hit by heavy artillery and rocket barrages since fighting between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists broke out 29 January.

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A woman is pictured in front of her building, which was damaged during fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatistsGleb Garanich/Reuters

The fighting has damaged vital infrastructure, leading to power outages a midst a strong cold snap, with temperatures in Avdiivka as low as minus 18 Celsius (0 Fahrenheit). Persistent fighting has hampered repair efforts. A regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross said the ICRC had recommended the creation of up to seven "safety zones" around key power and water infrastructure such as pumping stations close to the front line.

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Local residents wait for a humanitarian aid near a crater after shelling hit supply infrastructureGleb Garanich/Reuters
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A woman inspects a hole in a damaged building, which was caused by shelling, in the rebel-held city of Donetsk, UkraineAlexander Ermochenko/Reuters
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A man is seen in front of his building, which was damaged during fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatistsGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Local residents are seen near a building which was damaged during fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatistsGleb Garanich/Reuters
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At least 40 people, including civilians, have been killed and several dozen injured in the worst violence in the region since 2015. The Ukrainian military and Russia-backed separatists accused each other of launching a new wave of shelling. Both sides have moved heavy artillery, rockets and tanks close to the front line in clear violation of a peace deal struck two years ago.

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A military doctor helps local residentGleb Garanich/Reuters
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A man is seen in his building, which was damaged during fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists, in the government-held industrial town of AvdiyivkaGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Women carry firewood for heating their homesGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Ukrainian servicemen are seen at their position on the front line near the government-held industrial town of AvdiyivkaGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Bullets are seen at a position of Ukrainian servicemen on the front line near the government-held industrial town of AvdiyivkaGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Crew members prepare tanksGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Ukrainian servicemen are seen at their position on the front line near the government-held industrial town of AvdiyivkaGleb Garanich/Reuters

Russia says Ukraine instigated the latest surge to firm up Western support, while Kiev accuses the Kremlin of stirring up the violence to test the new US administration's will to involve itself in the crisis.

US President Donald Trump said he was willing to work with both Kiev and Moscow to resolve a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, following a telephone call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenk.

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Members of the Ukrainian National Guard load humanitarian aid parcels for the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka to a truck in KievValentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
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Volunteers sort a humanitarian aid at an emergency centreGleb Garanich/Reuters
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A local resident waits for a meal at an emergency centreGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Local residents have a meal at an emergency centre after shelling hit supply infrastructure in the government-held industrial town of AvdiyivkaGleb Garanich/Reuters
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Local residents have a meal at an emergency centreGleb Garanich/Reuters
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A local resident receives a meal at an emergency centreGleb Garanich/Reuters