‘It was a massacre’: Mariupol residents remember the battle for the Ukrainian city 2022-04-29 13:11:00

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MARIPOL, Ukraine, April 29 (Reuters) – Residents of Mariupol recounted the horrors of the battle for their now-devastated city this week as they rummaged through the rubble for belongings, cooked meals on the side of the road or stared at charred shells of whole buildings. around them.

“It was horrible … like movies that show the last days of planet Earth – the same thing happened here,” said Viktoria Nikolaeva, 54, who, like many residents, stayed with her family in a basement while Russian and Ukrainian forces fought overhead.

“We were hungry, the baby was crying when locusts (multiple rocket launchers) landed near the house. We were thinking, this is the end. It can’t be described… I can’t put it down,” she told Reuters in tears.

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Emergency services were seen in the streets collecting the bodies of those who had not survived the fighting for weeks.

Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine saw some of the fiercest battles of the war to date, and much of the port city is now in ruins. Russia declared victory there last week, but hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians remain trapped in the huge Azovstal steelworks industrial complex.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said an operation was planned on Friday to remove civilians from the plant, but did not give details. Previous evacuation efforts have failed.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to disarm and protect Ukraine from fascists. Ukraine and the West say fascist allegations are baseless and the war is an unjustified act of aggression.

In the shadow of the wrecked and wrecked apartment buildings in Mariupol—many missing walls as well as windows and balconies—a woman wearily chopped an onion on a table in the light of the spring sun. Riding a bike. A man loaded pieces of furniture onto a truck.

A temporary wooden cross – one of many around the city – marks the place near an apartment building where someone hastily and temporarily buried during the fighting.

Mayor Vadim Boychenko said tens of thousands of civilians were killed in Mariupol. Organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations say they believe thousands have died.

“It was a massacre,” said Vitaly Kudasov, 71. “It was the most terrifying thing when the shells were flying overhead. She couldn’t survive the shells and shells and so on. And yet we did it.”

“A shell exploded eight meters away… I couldn’t reach the basement in time, I could feel the heat on my face. But whatever it is, thank God everything will be fine,” he added.

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(Reporting by Reuters for Reuters Television) By Gareth Jones Editing by Francis Kerry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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