In the ruins of a five-story building in the center of the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia, a lifeless manicured hand with bright red fingernails suddenly appears from among the rubble.
On Thursday, seven missiles hit the city, including three of its hypercenter, just after 5:00 am. “Russians deliberately attack civilians to instill fear,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
The young woman lived in a building overlooking the main artery of the city, the largest non-Russian-controlled city in southwestern Ukraine. About forty kilometers separated Zaporizhia from the artillery battles of the front.
The victim, who was carefully removed from the rubble by rescuers, must have been in bed when his building collapsed. Death picked her up by her underwear and her eyes opened.
An hour later, after rescuers cleared tons of rubble, firefighters poured hectoliters of water on the wreckage, which was still billowing thick smoke seven hours after the impact, and another body was found.
Man or woman, young or old, after spending hours in the fire, its four legs are cut off. The body is quickly placed in a black body bag and then exhumed.
Officially, one person was killed and seven others were injured in Zaporizhia on Thursday morning. But this assessment is only partial.
In the building on Main Street, AFP found two bodies. According to one rescuer, there were “six to ten” victims. A third body was also found at another site, according to this rescuer, who declined to give his name to AFP.
Oksana Beketova, head of the Zaporizhia Red Cross, told AFP that a body had been found at a car wash and that a woman had been killed in her home.
“We are constantly asking people to evacuate. (But) two bus stops from here, there are still people walking in a park,” Ms. Beketova regrets and hopes that after these heavy bombings, “people will take the opportunity to save themselves.”
“A lot of people will move to other cities: families with children, the elderly,” predicts Igor Osolotko, a 25-year-old musician who arrived with dozens of volunteers to help clear the rubble brick by brick. A completely burnt building.
“For the first time in my life, I feel pure hatred,” he continues. “It’s ridiculous, it’s unreal. We have to rely on our military and live with this terror until it’s over, until we win.”
This is not the first disaster in the city. Last Friday, 31 people were killed when a missile hit a parking lot on the outskirts of Zaporizhia. In addition to one police officer killed, 30 others tried to return to Russian-controlled Ukraine.
Kiev and Moscow blamed each other for the blast.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday finalized his claim to annex four Ukrainian territories (Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia), but the Kremlin has not yet confirmed which geographic parts of those regions will be annexed.
Although the Ukrainian army said on Thursday it had retaken 400 square kilometers of the Kherson region (in the south) from Russia, it is still unclear whether the city of Zaporizhia is considered its own territory by Moscow or not. Does Moscow claim the nuclear power plant?
Dmitry Sirchenko, who came to help clear the rubble of a building, did not understand why the explosion happened in the middle of the city.
“I could have explained it from a logical point of view if they had attacked military bases, or something. But they attacked a city center, there are no soldiers there. There is no infrastructure there. They are attacking civilian buildings,” he says angrily.
However, according to him, there is no question of exit. “Where to go? He asks. There is no safe place in Ukraine.