A man in the town of Chugiv choked with his father’s body after the missile attack: “I told my father to leave.”
People in the town of Chuzhev woke on the morning of February 24 fearing a series of artillery and missile strikes after Russia launched its military campaign into eastern Ukraine.
Next to the man in his 30s who was holding his father’s body in the rubble, a woman also complained loudly in the cold weather. Two 5-storey apartment buildings nearby were hit by rockets, causing severe damage and creating a deep hole 4-5 meters in diameter in the ground. Many other buildings in Chuguiv were also severely damaged by a series of shattered glass windows.
Sergiy, 67, who lives in a damaged apartment, said he was fine despite a few bruises. “I will stay here, my daughter is in Kiev and she will stay,” the man said.
“We didn’t expect this to happen. We will move to a nearby village and hope the war will spare us,” shared the girl named Anastasia.
In the capital Kiev, panicked Ukrainians flocked to a subway station for cover as air raid sirens sounded. City resident Ksenya Michenka shivered as she took her son and pet cat to the subway station near Maidan Square.
“We have to save ourselves. We want the subway station to be a shelter because it’s underground,” Michenka said.
Early on February 24, many residents of the city of 3 million were awakened by a series of loud explosions. “I woke up because I heard bombs,” said Maria Kashkoska, 29.
In addition to congregating in shelters, many people in Kiev rushed to stock up, refuel, withdraw cash or drive out of the city. Growing concerns hang over the Ukrainian capital.
The couple, Yana and Sergii Lysenko, like many other Kievs desperate to seek asylum, said they were trying to stay calm and not show fear for their young daughter. The family of three decided to drive west to Ternopil, about 190 kilometers from the Polish border.
“We thought it would be safer in Ternopil. We heard bombs. That’s why we decided to leave the city,” Yana said.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the country’s northeast, explosions sounded and people evacuated. Contrary to the Kievs, most residents of Kharkiv said they chose to take refuge rather than risk leaving the city.
“I woke up at 5 in the morning to a completely changed reality, and that’s when I realized it wasn’t as safe as I thought. I couldn’t believe it was happening,” said one Kharkov woman.
Contrary to the panic of many, Alex Klymenok, a 27-year-old lawyer in Kiev, is still taking his time to his office and taking his laptop home to work remotely under stressful circumstances.
“It’s scary of course, but we don’t need to panic because that’s what they want. Now my job is normal. Even if they come here and enter Kiev, I’m still ready to fight,” Klymenok said.
Kharkov woman Svetlana Locotova also appeared calm and waited with everyone to evacuate. “It’s totally normal. It’s just the usual way of reacting. I hope people will line up like this,” Lokotova said.
Many people on the streets of Kharkov are still talking and laughing, even talking about cleaning their homes in preparation for evacuating loved ones from the hardest-hit areas.
“We are optimistic, but also prepared for the worst,” Lokotova said.
Yuying (according to CNN/AFP)