The fighting went on all day and climaxed with an assault by pro-Kiev activists on the Trades Union building, where -- apparently -- 30 or more died from gunshots, injuries and smoke inhalation when the building was firebombed with Molotov cocktails.
I watched a good deal of it on the UStream. It was awful. Some are suggesting that what happened in Odessa today will be the pretext for a Russian invasion. Maybe, maybe not.
But what happened will not be soon forgotten.
Howard Amos was live tweeting throughout the mayhem and has written his impressions for the Guardian:
Ukraine clashes: dozens reported dead after Odessa building firePolice say people choked to death on smoke or were killed jumping out of window after assault on trade union building
More than 30 people were reported to have been killed in violent and chaotic clashes in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on Friday as pro-Ukrainian activists stormed a building defended by protesters opposed to the current government in Kiev and in favour of closer ties with Russia.
Odessa's large Soviet-era trade union building was set alight as pro-Ukrainian activists mounted an assault as dusk fell. Police said at least 31 people choked to death on smoke or were killed when jumping out of windows after the trade union building was set on fire.
Bodies lay in pools of blood outside the main entrance as explosions from improvised grenades and Molotov cocktails filled the air. Black smoke from the building and a burning pro-Russian protest camp wreathed the nearby square.
Pro-Russian fighters mounted a last-ditch defence of the burning building, tossing masonry and Molotov cocktails from the roof on to the crowd below.
Medics at the scene said that the pro-Russian fighters were also shooting from the roof. At least five bodies with bullet wounds lay on the ground covered by Ukrainian flags as fire engines and ambulances arrived at the scene.
Some people fell from the burning building as they hung on to windowsills in an attempt to avoid the fire that had taken hold inside. Pro-Ukrainian protesters made desperate efforts to reach people with ropes and improvised scaffolding.More.
Not getting better out there...