With Russian troops focusing on Ukraine’s east, residents outside Kyiv begin the grisly clean-up

Home Australia News With Russian troops focusing on Ukraine’s east, residents outside Kyiv begin the grisly clean-up
With Russian troops focusing on Ukraine’s east, residents outside Kyiv begin the grisly clean-up

Lidia Zaika heard the Russians coming well before they arrived in her town.

With tears in her eyes, the great-grandmother, who lives alone, recalled the deafening sound of bombs raining down around her.

“The most horrible things were the rockets and the shells,” she said.

“There were such huge explosions and flames.

“I was praying, asking God to protect me. It was a nightmare.”

She took shelter in her cellar, where she was already storing onions, potatoes and jars of preserved food.

“At least if I died, I’d die with a full stomach,” she said.

After weeks of relentless shelling, and with communications and power cut off, she started losing hope.

“I realised nobody was going to help me,” she said.

An older woman in a striped jumper and cream headscarf stands in front of burned out homes
After a month sheltering in her own cellar, Lidia Zaika emerged to find her town abandoned and destroyed.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

During breaks in the shelling, she filled buckets of water and started putting out fires which had started around the property.

She never went outside her gates.

When she finally did emerge one month later, she was horrified by what she found.

The last woman standing

Almost every house around Ms Zaika’s home was destroyed or badly damaged.

“After a month, I came out of hiding. I saw the houses around me were bombed and burnt. The fire was spreading from one house to another,” she told the ABC.

“And then I realised I was all alone.” 

Unbeknownst to her, almost everyone in the town had already fled, so Ms Zaika was forced to survey the damage on her own.

A drone shot of a blasted house, with a huge crater in the yard where a rocket landed
Moshchun, just outside Kyiv, was obliterated by Russian shelling in the first weeks of the war. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Huge craters in the streets and in nearby fields showed the power of the shells that Russian soldiers fired as they advanced from Belarus towards Kyiv.

The houses that took direct hits were obliterated. 

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