Ukrainian mall survivors describe ‘hell’ of Russian attack

KYIV — Survivors of the Russian missile attack on a shopping mall in central Ukraine on Monday have described their experiences, with one calling it simply “hell”.

At the Kremenchuk public hospital, five people are crammed into a room in an intensive care unit, their wounds wrapped in bloody bandages. A corpse lies on a stretcher outside, covered with a blanket.

Yulia, a 21-year-old covered in deep cuts, said Monday was her first day at work at one of the mall’s stores.

The hospital is treating 25 people injured in the attack, six of them in critical condition. Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday the strike left at least 18 people dead and 59 injured, while more than 40 are missing.

A general ward patient at the hospital, Ludmyla Mykhailets, 43, said she was shopping at an electronics store with her husband, Mykola, when the blast tossed her into the air.

“I flew head first and shrapnel hit my body. The whole place was collapsing. Then I landed on the ground and I don’t know if I was conscious or unconscious,” he said. she declared, adding that she had broken her arm and split her head. open.

“It was hell,” added Mykola, 45, blood seeping through a bandage wrapped around his head.

Outside the hospital, a small group of mall workers were filled with worry and grief, but also relief.

Roman, 28, said on hearing an air raid siren, they had gone to a nearby basement when the missiles hit.

He added that many more had stayed indoors as management allowed shops to remain open three days ago during air raid warnings.

Many Ukrainians have stopped responding to the now regular warning sirens as strikes occur less frequently outside of Ukraine’s battle-torn east.

Oleksandr Kovalenko, deputy director of the hospital’s surgical department, said Monday’s attack was the sixth time the city has been bombed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. “But never before has it affected so many people,” he added.

People lined up at a hotel near the mall on Tuesday to register the names of missing people, as rescuers continued to search the rubble for survivors.

The strike sparked global outcry, with G7 leaders condemning it as “abominable” as they gathered for a summit in Germany.

“It’s not an accidental hit, it’s a calculated Russian strike,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an evening video address. He said the death toll could rise.

He estimated that around 1,000 people were in the mall at the time of the strike. The city had 217,000 inhabitants before the invasion.

Russia claimed on Tuesday that its missiles hit a nearby weapons storage facility and the mall was closed.

Moscow has consistently denied it was targeting civilian infrastructure, even as Russian attacks hit other shopping malls, theaters, hospitals, kindergartens and apartment buildings, killing and injuring thousands. —Euronews