Monday, December 5, 2022

Kyiv under shelling: ‘First thing I heard was my child's scream’

by Anna MyroniukMarch 3, 2022 10:37 pm
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A 26-story building on 6A Lobanovskoho Street in Kyiv, was hit by a Russian missile on Feb. 26. (courtesy).

One week since Russia began its full-scale war against Ukraine, the civilian death toll is in the hundreds, while thousands have been left injured.

According to the United Nations, over 600 civilians have died as a result of Russia's aggression.

Russian troops have shelled residential areas, hitting civilian targets such as schools, kindergartens and nurseries. Thousands have been forced out of their homes.

Houses of ordinary Ukrainians have been shattered by airstrikes, Grad rocket launchers and cruise missiles fired from Russian and Belarusian territory.

The Kyiv Independent tells the story of two families who were nearly killed by shelling.

Lucky to survive

It was eight o'clock on Feb. 26. The family of Maksym Karaush gathered for breakfast in the kitchen of their Kyiv apartment.

A few minutes into the meal, a Russian missile hit their bedroom.

“The light went out instantly, it turned black, smoke filled the room,” Karaush, a father of two, recalled. “The first thing I heard was a child's scream. My youngest son, he was lucky. He was sitting behind the wall. The wall is strong, it held the strike.”

Maksym and his son Georgiy, 11, were spared. But his wife, Iryna, and their oldest son, Marko, 19, were severely injured. They were standing in the doorway when the strike occurred.

“The shot wave knocked them off their feet. Bricks, gravel, debris fell from above,” Karaush said.

He found Georgiy and asked a neighbor to get the child out of the building. Then dug up his son and wife from the rubble and put splints on their legs. Together with rescuers, they took Iryna and Marko down the stairs.

The shelling left Iryna with a broken leg. She went through a surgery. A few more are ahead.

Marko has a spine injury and a broken leg. His condition is of the most concern. The first surgery was successful – the doctors managed to save his leg.

Now Karaush is running in between two hospitals to help his loved ones.

“We were lucky to survive,” he said. “So many people in Kyiv either were killed or lost their relatives in the bombardments.”

What saved them is breakfast, Karaush said.

“There is almost nothing left from our apartment but the kitchen,” he said.

Head full of glass

The next morning, Feb. 27, was no different from the one before – Russia shelled people’s homes in Kyiv.

Same time, different place.

It was around 8 a.m. when Lyudmyla Honcharenko, 59, a concierge at a Kyiv residential building was sitting on a sofa next to a TV set at her workplace.

“Suddenly out of the blue, I hear a bang, then a flash,” she recalled. That was a Russian missile hitting the ground next to the entrance to the building. Seven cars parked outside caught fire."

“Glass rained down right on me from the window. Good thing I had blinds there. They saved me,” she said. “I had blood all over my face, my head was full of glass. You can’t imagine.”

The explosion was so heavy, she said, that it tore out an iron door.

The residents immediately rushed to the bomb shelter.

“People were screaming and crying. Pregnant women, people with children, with little babies,” she said. “There was a lot of panic.”

She did not follow them and immediately ran home to her son.

“I was in sweatpants and in slippers,” Honcharenko said. “As I was walking home, I was trembling out of fear so badly,” she added.

She was stunned by the explosion but otherwise escaped in one piece.

“I do not know how much longer we can stand this," Honcharenko said.

Anna Myroniuk
Anna Myroniuk
Head of investigations

Anna Myroniuk is the head of investigations at the Kyiv Independent. Anna has run investigative projects on human rights, healthcare and illicit trade. She investigated presidents and oligarchs. She has written for New York Times, Washington Post, Coda Story and OCCRP. Anna holds a Masters in Investigative Journalism from the City University of London. She is a Chevening Scholar, a finalist of the 2020 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, an honoree of the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Media & Marketing list, the runner-up in the investigative reporting category of the 2022 European Press Prize, and the finalist of the 2022 National Investigative Journalism Award of Ukraine.

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