Civilians fleeing Ukraine’s east say Russian forces have ‘ruined everything’

23 May 2022, 10:44

A child and a man, fleeing from heavy shelling, wave to a photographer before departing in an evacuation train at Pokrovsk train station
Russia Ukraine War. Picture: PA

The horrors have left ordinary Ukrainians in shock and fighting back tears.

Civilians fleeing the war in the east of Ukraine have described scenes of devastation after their towns and villages came under sustained attacks from Russian forces.

From houses on fire and artillery blasting through thick apartment walls to people hiding in basements without electricity, water, or gas as their towns were pulverised above them, the horrors have left ordinary Ukrainians in shock and fighting back tears.

On Sunday, more than 270 people boarded an evacuation train heading west to safer areas of Ukraine from the town of Pokrovsk – with most brought there on buses from areas near the fighting.

Lida Chuhay, 83, who fled the hard-hit town of Lyman, near the frontline in the eastern Luhansk province, said: “Ashes, ruins. The northern parts, the southern parts, all are ruined.

People fleeing from shelling board an evacuation train at the train station
People fleeing from shelling board an evacuation train at the train station (Francisco Seco/AP)

“Literally everything is on fire: houses, buildings, everything.”

She and others who fled Lyman said the town was coming under sustained attack and much of it had been reduced to rubble.

Those still left there were hiding in shelters. Barely anyone ventures outside as it is too dangerous to walk in the streets.

“They ruined everything,” said Olha Medvedeva, sitting opposite Ms Chuhay on the train.

“The five-storey building where we were living, everything flew away — the windows, the doors.”

Everyone now lives in basements, she said, as projectiles fly overhead.

Petro Demidov, sitting opposite her on the train, said they hid in a supermarket while they waited 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 got away under heavy fire,” he said.

People fleeing from heavy shelling board an evacuation train at Pokrovsk train station
People fleeing from heavy shelling board an evacuation train at Pokrovsk train station (Francisco Seco/AP)

Russia has apparently made slow grinding moves forward against Ukrainian troops in the eastern industrial Donbas area in recent days.

It intensified efforts to capture Sieverodonetsk, the main city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk province, which together with the neighbouring Donetsk province makes up the Donbas.

“Horror. There’s nothing to speak of, especially in the centre,” 76-year-old Lyubov Chudnyk said of Lyman, the town she has lived in for 42 years.

“The schools are damaged, the monuments. Lyman is terrible now.”

She used to support Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Now “I want to strangle him with my own hands”, Ms Chudnyk said.

About 19 miles south-east of Lyman, the small town of Soledar was also badly hit, said Denys Uperaka, 34.

He had already sent his wife and three-year-old son away earlier in the war.

Now he, too, had to leave.

He was lucky, he said, to live in a valley, so “everything was flying over us”.

But it just got to be too much.

People fleeing from heavy shelling board an evacuation train at Pokrovsk train station
People fleeing from heavy shelling board an evacuation train at Pokrovsk train station (Francisco Seco/AP)

On Sunday, the Russians started shelling at 4am.

“It’s impossible to be there anymore,” he said, adding that Russian forces had taken over the nearby village of Volodymyrivka, just to the east of Soledar.

To the north of Soledar, the village of Yakovlivka was also coming under sustained attack, said 59-year-old Valentina Domanshenko.

The village no longer has electricity, running water or gas, she said.

People were surviving by cooking on open fires outdoors. She saw people die of shrapnel wounds in the street.

“The shelling is every day, the houses tremble. Many people left, but there are still some there,” said Ms Domanshenko, breaking down in tears.

“I’m very worried about them.”

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Police outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris (Catherine Wylie/PA)

Men convicted of involvement in 2015 terror attacks in Paris

Breaking
Salah Abdeslam is believed to be the only surviving member of the group that killed 130 people in the 2015 Paris attacks

Islamic State member found guilty of mass murder for 2015 Paris terror attacks

Vatican Pope Pelosi

Pro-choice Nancy Pelosi receives communion at Vatican despite home city ban

Workers clear debris at the Kremenchuk shopping centre damaged in the Russian rocket attack

Search ongoing for 20 missing after Russian strike on Ukraine shopping centre

People attend a community vigil for the dozens of people found dead in a trailer in San Antonio

‘Difficult process’ identifying Texas lorry trailer death victims – authorities

World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

US abortion ruling ‘a setback’ that will cost lives, says WHO chief

Dutch farmers protesting against government plans gather for a demonstration at Stroe

Dutch PM condemns farmers’ protests at minister’s home

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in by committee chairman Bennie Thompson

Trump dismissed January 6 threats and wanted to join crowd, says former aide

India Killing

Hindu tailor killed in cleaver attack amid religious tensions in India

The superyacht Amadea, which was seized by the US from a Russian oligarch

£25bn from Russian oligarchs frozen in multinational seizure effort

Travis Barker is been hospitalised in LA

Travis Barker's family plea for 'prayers' after drummer hospitalised with mystery illness

Airbnb has permanently banned parties at all its properties

Airbnb permanently bans parties at all properties around the world

Capitol Riot Investigation

Trump was told protesters had weapons on January 6, former aide says

A car surrounded by exhaust fumes

EU countries approve climate measures after long talks

Hong Kong

Hong Kong bars some journalists from handover anniversary celebrations

Footage has emerged of the missile strike on the mall in Ukraine

Horror moment Russian missile obliterates shopping mall in Ukraine