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Survivors voice ‘hatred’ and ‘fear’ after Ukraine restaurant strike

#Survivors #voice #hatred #fear #Ukraine #restaurant #strike

Mykyta lay in a hospital bed with cuts from shrapnel on his face and body after a Russian missile hit the restaurant where he was having dinner in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kramatorsk.

In a quiet voice, the 23-year-old told AFP on Thursday how he and his friends were in the RIA restaurant on Tuesday evening when the missile hit around 7.30 pm.

“We came there every evening. It was like being at home,” said Mykyta, who described himself as a civilian but did not give his job title.

“We were sitting in the middle of the veranda, on the other side of the wall from the epicentre. But my friends and I were still lucky to be able to get out,” he said.

“We heard a whistle like a plane flying. After that, someone shouted: “Everyone on the floor!” When we were lying on the floor, there was an explosion and I don’t remember anything.”

– ‘Friends among dead’ –

When he came to, Mykyta said, people ran to a basement before trying to clear an escape route as a fire broke out.

“I and a friend cleared the way, throwing furniture out so it wouldn’t catch fire.” 

After escaping, he said he helped give medical assistance, before feeling ill and going to hospital. 

In the next room were two women injured in the strike. One, a young dark-haired woman, said she had been trapped under concrete slabs.

Twelve people including children were killed and dozens received injuries when Russian missiles struck the restaurant on Tuesday. Moscow insisted it killed two Ukrainian generals and dozens of officers and foreign mercenaries when its forces struck a “point of temporary deployment” of Kyiv troops.

RIA restaurant was popular with military, volunteers and journalists. The large restaurant with seating inside and on a veranda served food including pizzas and kebabs. 

Chefs kneaded pizza dough in view of diners. The bar was decorated with rows of bottles, although like other restaurants in this “dry” frontline zone, it only sold soft drinks.

Mykyta said he had minor shrapnel injuries, bruises and concussion, and his dining companions survived.

“Those who were sitting at the table with me are all alive, they were only injured by shrapnel,” he said.

“But some of the dead — the staff from the restaurant — are also my friends, I knew them all very well.”

He said he now feels a “fighting spirit”.

“We know what kind of neighbour we have. I feel hatred for them because they are carrying out genocide of the Ukrainian people,” he said.

Hospitals in Kramatorsk took in dozens of injured after the explosion.

– Influx of injured –

The most seriously injured were later transferred to a larger hospital in the central city of Dnipro, including a 9-month-old baby with a traumatic brain injury, doctors said.

Trauma specialist Sergiy Fatiyanov said those still in Kramatorsk had light to moderate injuries and their condition was not worsening. 

“At the moment there are no foreign patients in our unit,” he added. 

“There were at the start but they all got initial care and were sent to Dnipro”, around 250 kilometres away.

The most common injuries were cranio-cerebral injury, spinal injury and multiple blunt force traumas, the doctor said.

“Most were injured by the roof collapsing.” 

Neurosurgeon Vitaliy Savenkov, 58, said that around 70 injured people arrived at the same time, around a quarter of them in a serious condition.

“I operated on the worst-injured victim,” he said, naming her as Ukrainian writer and volunteer, Victoria Amelina. 

“They sent her to Dnipro,” he added. “Now her condition is extremely difficult. She is currently in the intensive care unit. It’s not possible to make any predictions yet.”

The last body was removed from the ruins in the early hours of Thursday, taking the toll to 12.

At the scene of the strike, seven photos of victims were put up, four of them young women. The staff lit candles in their memory.

– ‘Playing the saxophone’ –

The strike caused damage to buildings all around.

Just across the street, 74-year-old Volodymyr Kovalenko was mending his window frames.

The saxophonist said he was at home practising when the missile hit. He showed paint and plaster stripped off an internal wall and broken windows in three rooms.

“I was sitting here playing the saxophone,” said the jazz musician.

“I sat down here and there was such a crash and this window fell in here.

“My wife was in the kitchen. She immediately fell over. It was impossible not to fall, there was such a strong (blast) wave.”

“I didn’t even get scared: it was such a strike. Then a feeling of fear came later.”

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#Survivors #voice #hatred #fear #Ukraine #restaurant #strike

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