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Home World News Washington Post World News When Russia bombs a building full of people, this is the aftermath

When Russia bombs a building full of people, this is the aftermath


Rescue workers try to free victims from the rubble of a residential apartment complex that was hit by Russian forces in Dnipro, Ukraine on January 14, 2023. (Wojciech Grzedzinski for The Washington Post)


DNIPRO, Ukraine — Two hours after a Russian missile slammed into a Ukrainian apartment complex on Saturday, shaking the city that has served as a relatively safe haven for the war’s displaced, rescuers digging through the rubble saw a sudden movement from above.

On the eighth floor, they could see the arm of a bloodied elderly woman, so buried under rubble she could barely move, waving a piece of red cloth. Under her, dozens of apartments had collapsed, swallowing residents in some 30 feet of rubble.

From the damaged building, she somehow lived – and called for help.

Russia’s blatant attack on civilians here – the worst to hit this city since Russia invaded Ukraine last February – came just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed his top military officer, General Valery Gerasimov, as the new overseer of his brutal army. war in Ukraine.

The attack, which coincided with the Orthodox New Year, served as a stark message that Putin’s closest confidant is likely to continue the violent rocket attacks on civilian targets that have become a hallmark of the Russian attack. The bombing, one of a spate of attacks in Ukraine Saturday, may have destroyed as many as 30 apartments in the sprawling complex, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, sharing video of the destruction.

Residents were trapped as flames engulfed part of the building, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, told Telegram.

At least 12 people were killed in the apartment building on Saturday and dozens more were injured. By nightfall, about 20 people had been rescued, he said. It is believed that many more are buried in the ruins. . As the city approached its midnight curfew, dogs wearing special shoes to protect them from injury climbed the pile of rubble, sniffing for survivors. On the side, the dead lay on the floor in white sacks, with red and white tape wrapped around them.

The living, hundreds of them, emerged from the darkness, as they do in so many Ukrainian cities on so many evenings, to clean up and distribute food and hot drinks.

While Russian missiles hit other Ukrainian cities on Saturday, none in Dnipro caused anything close to the extent of the damage. The attack here came as an exceptional shock because it has been a kind of refuge. Many displaced people, from places such as the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol or the front-line regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, have moved here in search of safety and normalcy.

“We no longer have safe places in Ukraine,” said Maksym Chornyi, 32, who volunteered to help rescue people at the scene. “It must also be clear for Europe, because those missiles can also land there.”

He was home on the other side of Dnipro on Saturday afternoon when he heard the attack – so powerful it sent a shock wave through much of the city.

He rushed to the scene, where he climbed through the wreckage to search for survivors wearing nothing more than a face mask to shield him from the smoke billowing through the air. After several hours, rescuers asked him and other volunteers to go back so they could bring heavy machinery to the area to continue digging. He stepped away, his face dark with soot.

What he saw in the wreckage was a nightmare.

At one point he heard screaming and thought it was coming from below. Then he realized it was the woman trapped on the eighth floor who told the rescuers her name was Lyuba. Later he looked up and realized there was a dead man hanging on the other side of the building – his entrails had been ripped out of his body.

Nearby, “blood had streaked the wall,” Chornyi said. “I feel terrible.”

Just before 8 p.m., rescuers finally dug Lyuba out of the remains of her home and slowly lowered her to the ground in a yellow stretcher. She lay still as they wrapped her in a foil blanket.

One of the workers who carried her down blew her a kiss and leaned over her. “I promised I would save you and I did,” he said. “Everything will be fine.”

Then they took her away in an ambulance.

One of the Ukrainian Red Cross doctors who helped her to safety said she thought both her legs were broken. Her face was covered in blood.

When asked what message she would like to send the world after this attack, the medic, who identified herself only as Natalya, 36, didn’t hesitate for a moment.

“Stop Russia,” she said.

Nadya Yaroshenko’s son Rostyslav, who is 12, was home alone in their third-floor apartment when the rocket hit. He called his mother in a panic and asked how he could flee, she recalls.

“‘There are no stairs,'” he told her. When much of the building was destroyed, he crawled to the elevator and waited for help, she said.

Her friends pushed past first responders screaming that a child was trapped inside. Then one of them climbed up the building and carried him out through a window unharmed.

Hours later, the family was still waiting for any sign of their missing cat and dog.

Then her neighbor, Andriy Filkovich, called with good news. “Nadya, the dog is next to me with her rescuer. Where are you?” he said.

Russian missiles rain down on Ukrainian cities; Britain sends main battle tanks

A firefighter returned the trembling dachshund named Cola to Yaroshenko, who wrapped her in her arms. “You were so scared,” she cooed. “Do not be afraid.”

Their cat, Bilyash, whose blue and yellow eyes match the Ukrainian flag, was still missing.

War in Ukraine: what you need to know

The last: Russia claimed on Friday to have taken control of Soledar, a hotly contested salt mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged in recent days, but a Ukrainian military official insisted the battle was not over.

Russian guess: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western attempts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior US, Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the scene since the beginning of the war – here’s some of their most impressive work.

How you can help: Here are ways people in the US can support the Ukrainian people, as well as what people around the world have donated.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine War. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

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