“It’s such a shame for this boy, such a shame,” said Viktor, a resident of the Ukrainian city of Chaplyne, whose young neighbour was killed by a Russian strike.
Russian missiles slammed into the town of 4,000 people, a railway hub in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, killing 25 people including two children and injuring 31, the presidency said Thursday.
“An 11-year-old boy was killed under the rubble, another six-year-old died in a burnt-out car near the station,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of the presidential administration, said on Telegram.
One of the missiles destroyed the house of Viktor’s neighbour, leaving a huge crater in the courtyard.
Viktor, a grey-haired man in a blue polo shirt, was not at home but heard the explosions from afar.
“My daughter phoned me to tell me what a nightmare has happened here. I came back by bike. The house next door didn’t exist anymore. There was a hole five meters deep,” he said.
The neighbour and her son were taken to hospital with injuries.
But locals knew there was still a second child under the rubble and began clearing it.
“After, the rescuers arrived and we pulled him out,” Viktor said.
“We saw him every day, it was like he was our kid,” he said.
Viktor’s daughter and mother-in-law were at the scene at the time of the strike.
“They were both in shock,” Viktor’s wife Kateryna said, breaking down in tears.
“Thank God they stayed alive.”
The attack hit the railway station and “five carriages caught fire,” said Artem Zhuravlyov, an emergency services official.
Ukraine’s state railway company said three of its employees were killed and four others injured and published photos of burnt passenger wagons.
– Independence Day –
The bombing came as Ukraine marked Independence Day, which commemorates its 1991 separation from the Soviet Union.
It also came as the country entered its seventh month of the Russian invasion on Wednesday.
Moscow said it had struck a “military train” heading for “combat zones” in eastern Ukraine, a key strategic objective of Moscow.
An Iskander missile “directly hit a military train… eliminating more than 200 soldiers from the Ukrainian armed forces reserve” as well as equipment, the Russian defence ministry said.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said “10 civilians were killed” at Chaplyne station and its surroundings, leaving open the possibility that the other victims were not civilians.
“This is what Russia has done to us,” Anatoliy, in his 60s, said as he shows his devastated home.
“No car, no house, no shed,” he said.
Behind him, his old blue Lada no longer has a single window, its body badly damaged by pieces of roofing.
On the roof, there is nothing left but the frame and the chimney.
“We had thought for a long time that there would be a bombing. But we didn’t think they were going to bomb civilians,” Anatoliy said.
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