The Russian missile turned Vera Kosolopenko’s little house into a fiery pyramid, taking away the Bible and all the precious memories she held for her late husband.
“I lost everything that connected me to him,” he cried on Saturday as he stood next to the wreckage of a house destroyed by a rocket the day before. “All I have left is the portrait engraved on his tombstone.”
A 67-year-old widow living in the village of Bezruk in North Tselyan was lucky to survive.
The two friends were drinking tea inside the house when the rocket hit the roof.
“It was so fast,” he said. “It was terrible.”
Villagers say the rocket was one of five that quickly hit a deciduous village 26 kilometers north of Kharkov, near where Ukrainian troops pushed Russian forces trying to seize during a February 24 invasion of Moscow. the second largest city in the country.
The village was shelled but not captured
The Russians did not capture Bezruk, which is only 17 kilometers from the Russian border. But they sometimes sent cars to patrol its narrow dirt roads before their forces were repulsed by a nearly two-week Ukrainian counterattack, villagers say.
Since the beginning of the war, Bezruk has opened fire almost constantly, destroying or damaging many homes. The rocket-propelled grenades are scattered along its paths to the gravel road, and sometimes trenches and bunkers are visible on the trees at its edges.
During the Reuters visit, the two armies were engaged in artillery battles. High, throat booms were heard from the nearby Ukrainian rifles. The deafening murmurs marked the distant Russian positions, firing straight up several bullets south.
Countless Ukrainian villages, such as Bezruk, have been devastated by the invasion, which Russia, which has nuclear weapons, says it has had to do to eliminate the threat to Ukraine’s security.
Ukraine և Its foreign backers say thousands of people have been killed in the Kremlin’s aggressive war, which has wiped out millions more and left towns and cities in ruins.
Kosolopenko, a mother of five from the northeastern city of Sumy, moved with her late husband to a village where she had relatives in 2001. He died two years ago.
After the outbreak of war, there is no electricity or bottled gas. He lived mainly on humanitarian aid, the eggs of a few hens, which he cooked on a fire in a temporary stove made of several bricks and metal sheets in his backyard.
The rocket, Kosolopenko said, landed at 9 a.m. Friday. It lit his roof in a shower of flaming debris, which ignited a wooden warehouse in his narrow yard.
“We heard a loud explosion when it landed, and all the windows shattered,” he said.
When the second rocket hit nearby, he and his friends fled to a brick basement dug next to his house.
Kosolopenko “took his tea with him, I took the plastic bag with the book in it, and we ran to the basement,” said his girlfriend, Alla Bazarnaya, 40, from Kharkov.
Bazarnaya said he and Kosolopenko moved in in January after the couple befriended him at a hospital in Kharkov, where he was being treated for a stroke.
“The most important thing is that I felt that God had spared me, that we should leave in the basement,” Bazarnaya said.
The roof, the second floor ը the warehouse burned down when the couple appeared.
The victims tried to put out the fire with buckets
Kosolopenko said he called the nearest fire department when neighbors rushed to his home with buckets of water and other containers. They could not put out the fire.
“The firefighters answered that there was shelling, they could not get here,” he said. “Six hours later they got here, if they had arrived sooner, they could have put out the fire on the second floor and saved the first floor.”
The flames turned his house and storehouse into shells from the fire, leaving the yard on charred rubble and ashes. Only the ash-brick walls remained standing.
Kosolopenko said she had lost everything, including family photos և the Bible, which belonged to her husband’s father.
“This is so painful for me,” he cried. “I do not know how to rebuild this house, I loved this place.”
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