Fleeing devastation in Ukraine – The North State Journal
POKROVSK, Ukraine — Houses on fire. Artillery fire through the thick walls of the apartment. People hide in basements without electricity, water or gas as their cities are pulverized above them.
In shock, sometimes fighting tears, civilians fleeing areas near the eastern front during the war in Ukraine described scenes of devastation as their towns and villages came under sustained attack by Russian forces.
More than 270 people boarded an evacuation train on Sunday heading west to safer areas of Ukraine from the city of Pokrovsk, most were brought there on buses from nearby areas fights.
“Ashes, ruins. The northern parts, the southern parts, all are in ruins,” said Lida Chuhay, 83, who fled the hard-hit town of Lyman, near the frontline in the eastern province of Luhansk. “Literally, everything is on fire: houses, buildings, everything.
She and others who fled Lyman said the town was under sustained attack and much of it had been reduced to rubble. Those who remained there were hiding in shelters. Hardly anyone ventures outside as it is too dangerous to walk the streets.
“They ruined everything,” said Olha Medvedeva, sitting across from Chuhay on the train. “The five-story apartment building where we lived, everything blew away – the windows, the doors.”
Everyone now lives in basements, she said, as projectiles fly overhead.
Petro Demidov, sitting across from her on the train, said they had been hiding in a supermarket while waiting for the bus to pick them up and take them to the train. Above them, the ceiling shook from the force of the explosions outside.
“We fled under heavy fire,” he said.
Russia has apparently been advancing slowly against Ukrainian troops in the eastern industrial region of Donbass in recent days. It intensified its efforts to capture Sieverodonetsk, the main city under Ukrainian control in the province of Luhansk, which, together with the neighboring province of Donetsk, constitutes the Donbass.
“Horror. There is nothing to talk about, especially in the center,” Lyubov Chudnyk, 76, said of Lyman, the town where she has lived for 42 years. “Schools are damaged, monuments. Lyman is terrible now.
She supported Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Now “I want to strangle him with my own hands,” Chudnyk said.
About 30km southeast of Lyman, the small town of Soledar was also badly hit, said Denys Uperaka, 34. He had already sent his wife and 3-year-old son away earlier in the war. Now he too had to go.
He was lucky, he says, to live in a valley, so “everything was flying above us”. But it must be too much. On Sunday, the Russians began bombing at 4 a.m.
“It’s impossible to be there anymore,” he said, adding that Russian forces had taken control of the nearby village of Volodymyrivka, just east of Soledar.
North of Soledar, the village of Yakovlivka was also under sustained attack, said Valentina Domanshenko, 59. The village has no electricity, running water or gas, she said. People survived by cooking over open fires outside. She saw people die of shrapnel wounds in the street.
“The bombings are every day, the houses are shaking. A lot of people have left, but there are still some,” Domanshenko said, bursting into tears. “I am very worried about them.”