“To hell, with bare hands”: a report from the Ukrainian Kremenchuk after the Russian bombing
Bombing of the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk by Russian missiles
On June 27, a Russian rocket hit a shopping center in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, far from the front line. The city has never seen a tragedy of this magnitude. At least 20 people were killed and 59 were injured – hundreds of visitors and workers were in the center in the afternoon. Even a day later, rescuers continued to dismantle the rubble. And the relatives of those who were in the shopping center at the time of the explosion were looking for their beloved ones. A report by the Ukrainian edition of hromadske from Kremenchuk.
“The body crumbled right in the hands”
We arrive in Kremenchuk at one in the morning. Smoke still hangs over the shopping mall hit by Russian missiles. Fire engines and trucks with scrap metal constantly rush past.
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That night, 400 rescuers will dismantle the rubble and search for people under them. They will be assisted by both civilians and the military. Among them is a serviceman Ivan. Together with his brother, he arrived at the mall 20 minutes after the first explosion. At first they were placed around the perimeter to stop people who tried to run straight into the flames with the hope of saving their loved ones. The men then went inside to help rescuers.
“There were guys who ran inside in just T-shirts and slippers. That is, people with bare hands climbed into hell itself to help get strangers out of the rubble. We ran in and saw many bodies of people who were already almost at the exit. Near the pharmacy, the guys found the body of a woman, began to pull it out, but it crumbled in our hands.
There were a lot of bodies, but not in such a state as we are used to seeing in coffins, but just a bunch of different parts – charred, dark. But we understood that these were people”, says Ivan.
Volunteers arranged a memorial near the shopping center: they brought lamps and flowers. New people constantly come here – just to stand silently or light a candle. I see a woman with dark glasses. Her face is red with tears. She oversees the work of rescuers clearing the rubble.
“I am waiting for information about my nephew”, she tells me with difficulty. “He worked at Comfy and hasn’t been in touch since yesterday”.
We exchange a few phrases. The woman says that she has traveled to all the hospitals in the city, but her nephew is not there. The family passed the DNA test and is waiting for at least some information about the guy.
Four patients in the intensive care unit
59 patients were admitted applied to the city hospital with injuries from the explosion. 25 of them were hospitalized. One of the wounded, who was brought to the hospital, died within an hour.
“He did not have any visible injuries, most likely, there was a hemorrhage. We had five more severe patients, but one of them went into a state of moderate severity, the other four are in the intensive care unit”, says the director of the hospital.
“I will crush everyone. If I can’t use a weapon, I will gnaw them”
At the hospital, we meet a tear-stained woman who is sitting leaning on the curb. Lyudmila is looking for her daughter, 22-year-old Tatyana. She worked in one of the mall’s stores.
“She put on a new dress and went to work. She wanted to live so much”, the woman says through tears.
The last, says Lyudmila, her daughter was seen by a friend, also a shopping center employee. When the girls heard the alarm, Tanya invited her to hide in the toilet, but the girl refused – she said that she would go outside. And she managed to get out.
Lyudmila, together with her husband and Tatyana’s boyfriend, have been looking for a girl in hospitals for a day, they even went to the morgue, but so far they have not received any information.
“Maybe our girl will survive, but for her, and for all other children, if I stand on my feet, I will crush everyone, I can’t use weapons, then I will bite them”, says Lyudmila’s husband.
And the woman adds: “Let their mothers (Russians – ed.) feel what I feel now.”