‘They’ve ruined everything’: Escape from the devastation in Ukraine

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Pokrovsk, Ukraine – Home fire. Artillery blasting through thick apartment walls. People hide in basements without electricity, water or gas because their cities are crushed on them.

Shocked, sometimes weeping, civilians fleeing the war-torn Ukraine near the eastern front described the devastation as their towns and villages were attacked incessantly by Russian forces.

On Sunday, more than 270 people boarded an evacuation train from the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk to a safer area west of the city, most of them by bus from areas close to the battlefield.

“Ashes, debris. The northern part, the southern part, everything is destroyed,” said Lida Chuhai, 83, who fled the hard-hit town of Lyman, near the front line in eastern Luhansk province. “Literally everything is on fire: houses, buildings.” , Everything. “

He and others who fled Lyman said the city was under constant attack and that much of it had been reduced to rubble. Those who still remained there were hiding in shelters. Walking on the streets is so dangerous that very few people go out.

“They ruined everything,” said Olha Medvedev, sitting opposite the rat on the train. “Everything blew up in the five-story building we lived in – windows, doors.”

Everyone now lives in the basement, he said, projectiles fly overhead.

Sitting opposite him on the train, Petro Demidov said they were hiding in a supermarket while they waited for the bus and would take them on the train. Above them, the roof shook with the force of the external explosion.

“We escaped the blaze,” he said.

In recent days, Russia has been moving at a seemingly slow pace against Ukrainian forces in the eastern industrial Donbass area. It has intensified efforts to seize the Ukrainian-controlled capital of Luhansk province, Siverodonetsk, which forms Donbass with neighboring Donetsk province.

“Terrible. There’s nothing to say, especially in the center,” said Lyubov Chudnik Lyman, 8, of the town where he has lived for 42 years. “Schools have been damaged, monuments. Lyman is terrible now.”

He supported Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now “I want to suffocate him with my own hands,” Chudnik said.

About 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Lyman, the small town of Soledar was also badly hit, says Dennis Upperka, 34. He had already sent his wife and 3-year-old son away before the war. Now he has to leave.

He was lucky, he said, to live in a valley, so “everything was flying over us.” But it just got to be excessive. The Russians started firing from 4 am on Sunday

“It is impossible to stay there anymore,” he said, adding that Russian forces had occupied the village of Volodymyrivka just before Soledar.

North of Soledar, the village of Yakovlevka was also under constant attack, said Valentina Domanshenko, 59. The village no longer has electricity, running water or gas, he said. People survived by cooking on the open fire outside. He saw people being stabbed to death in the streets.

“Every day there are shootings, houses are shaking. A lot of people are gone, but there are still some, “said Domanshenko, breaking down in tears. “I’m very worried about them.”

Follow all AP stories of the Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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