Kyiv: CCTV shows a blast next to pedestrian bridge
On Monday, Moscow launched dozens of rockets on major Ukrainian cities, with at least 19 people dead and 105 wounded. Lena Chornaya, 34, a financial manager from Nova Kakhovka, southern Ukraine, had been travelling through Kyiv in a taxi when she witnessed one of the Russian missiles crash into the capital. The explosions which came shortly after 8am, were the largest attacks on the capital in months. The taxi had been approaching European Square next to the pedestrian Klitchko Bridge that connects two parks when the missile landed across from them.
Ms Chornaya told Express.co.uk: “We were almost under the bridge at the moment of the strike. I heard a loud sound and I saw an explosion which was like a big fireball and smoke around it.
“I couldn’t believe it, for a second I thought maybe it was an explosion unrelated to a missile attack because we’ve had air sirens going on for so many months without incident in recent months – I couldn’t believe that [Russian forces] would actually hit the centre of the city.
“We were in the car and chunks of the road and rocks started falling from the sky onto the car.
“I was lucky that I was inside the car because the roof kind of helped to protect us from possible injuries.
“But there were also people around us who were walking and they just dropped down on the ground – it didn’t look like they were seriously injured at the time but they obviously would have been in even more shock than I was… I could see a woman crying.”
A damaged Klitchko Bridge and huge hole formed after the Russian missiles hit the capital Kyiv
The explosions which came shortly after 8:00am, were the largest attacks on the capital in months
She explained after the explosion, she paused for a few moments, unsure of whether there were more rockets to come.
“When the explosion happened chunks of the road were flying everywhere, everything was covered in dust. We stayed still for maybe 20 or 30 seconds until things stopped falling from the sky and I felt like it was safe to move.
“When I got out of the vehicle I saw all the car windows were smashed except for the front one, which was lucky because we avoided being hit by rocks,” she added.
Ukrainian authorities urge citizens to immediately find their nearest shelter if they hear an air raid siren.
After exiting the damaged taxi, Ms Chornaya said she remembered there was an underground passage not far from them and took shelter there for the next three hours, when they were given the message that it was safe to come out.
The taxi driver refused to go with her to the shelter, instead choosing to stay with his crumpled vehicle.
She said on her way to the underground passage she saw more smoke rising from another part of the city and realised it was a coordinated attack.
At least 10 explosions were reported in Kyiv, and Russian forces continued a missile assault on the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, following strikes that local authorities said had killed at least 14 people a day earlier.
The building housing the visa section of the German Embassy on Lva Tolstoho Street is damaged, Kyiv
Ambulances arrive to the scene of a Russian rocket attack, Kyiv
Explosions also took place in Odesa, Dnipro and Lviv in Ukraine’s west, far from the front lines.
Ms Chornaya left Kyiv for western Ukraine after her horrifying experience but said she would likely return if the capital stayed calm.
The trains were half empty when she made her journey, suggesting many opted to stay despite the fresh spate of attacks.
Ms Chornaya decided against leaving the country when the invasion began on February 24 because her father and boyfriend would not be able to leave with her.
Martial law in Ukraine prohibits male citizens aged between 18 and 60 from travelling abroad during the conflict.
She had initially travelled to western Ukraine when the war broke out but returned to the capital two months ago “because it seemed like it was more or less safe”.
A variety of missiles were deployed, including high-precision Kalibr missiles and more crude missiles including the Kh-101 which is designed more for taking out ships than civilian targets.
It is thought 84 cruise missiles and 24 drones were deployed, with reports suggesting these were Kh-101, Kh-555, Kalibr, Iskander, S-300, and Tornado-S missiles.
A children’s playground was among the sites hit by Russian missiles
A missile debris seen next to a crater after a Russian missile attack on a children’s playground
The monetary value of this attack is estimated to have cost Moscow between $400million and $700million.
The calculation was made on the assumption that most of the missiles launched were the “expensive and highly accurate” Kh-101, S-300 and Tornado-S missiles.
Ms Chornaya told Express.co.uk the harrowing experience of witnessing the missile attack has reignited her appreciation for the air raid sirens.
She said: “When you have lived like this for a few months and you hear air raid sirens every day a few times a day, you can’t hide forever, you just kind of get used to it.
“I almost got the sense of coming back to normal pace. In fact, I had been thinking about renovating my apartment and then all of a sudden, in a second, everything changes and you realise you can’t make any plans and you can’t really go on and live as normal.
“This experience has changed my perception of my own safety and I know there’s a chance that one day I might not be so lucky.”
Monday’s bombardment came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukrainian forces of carrying out an explosion that damaged a flagship road and rail bridge connecting Crimea to Russia. Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for the blast.
In a televised meeting of his Security Council, Putin warned: “If attempts to commit terrorist acts on our territory continue, the responses from Russia will be harsh and their scale will correspond to the level of threat to Russia. No one should have any doubts.”
Firefighters work to put out a fire at CHP power station hit by Russian missile stike, Kyiv
Putin’s grim warning and attacks on Ukrainian cities have prompted many to demand more action be taken to protect the embattled nation.
Reflecting on her experience, Ms Chornaya added: “Sometimes in Europe, it feels like people are growing tired of worrying about Ukraine, which concerns me because it feels like there could be less support from the West when the war is still very much real and scary for all of us here.
“We shouldn’t wait for dramatic events like this to happen for the next decision about sanctions or weapons that Ukraine needs because the longer we wait the more difficult it becomes for all of us and the more victims there will be.”
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