The Russian missile turned Vera Kosolopenko’s small house into a pyre that consumed the Bible and all the other precious souvenirs she had cherished from her deceased husband.
“I lost everything that bound me to him,” she cried on Saturday as she stood by the smoldering remains of the house destroyed by the missile a day earlier. “All I have left is the portrait engraved on his tombstone.”
The little 67-year-old widow is happy to be alive.
She and two friends were drinking tea in the house when the missile hit the roof, she said. “It was so fast. It was scary. “
Villagers said the missile was one of five that quickly hit the leafy hamlet located 26 km north of Kharkiv, near where Ukrainian troops were driving Russian forces trying to capture the country’s second largest city in Moscow’s invasion on 24 February to overwhelm.
The Russians did not occupy Bezruky, which was located only 17 km from the border. But they occasionally sent vehicles to patrol its narrow dirt roads before their forces were repulsed by the nearly two-week-old Ukrainian counter-offensive, villagers said.
Since the war began, Bezruky has endured almost constant shell fire that has destroyed or damaged many of the homes. Rocket and bomb craters dot its tracks and the grooved dirt road leading to the village, an occasional ditch and bunker visible in the trees along the edges.
The enemies fought artillery duels during the visit by Reuters. Loud, throaty noises came from nearby Ukrainian rifles; subdued thrusts marked distant Russian positions that caused several southward shells to whistle directly overhead.
Countless Ukrainian villages like Bezruky were devastated by the invasion that nuclear-weapon Russia claims it was forced to launch to wipe out a threat that Ukraine posed to its security.
Ukraine and its foreign supporters say thousands of people have died in the Kremlin’s unprovoked war of aggression that has uprooted millions of others and left cities and towns in ruins.
“I LOVED THIS PLACE”
Kosolopenko, a mother of five from the northeastern city of Sumy, moved with her late husband to the town in 2001, where he had family. He died two years ago.
There has been no power or bottled gas since the war broke out. She mostly lived on humanitarian aid and eggs provided by a few chickens, and boiled in her backyard over a fire lit under a temporary kiln of several bricks and metal plates.
The missile, Kosolopenko said, fell Friday at 9 p.m. It set her roof on fire in a downpour of flaming shards that set fire to a wood storage room in her narrow backyard.
“We heard a big explosion when it landed and all the windows broke,” she recalled.
When a second rocket hit nearby, she and her friends fled into a brick-lined basement dug into the side of her home.
Kosolopenko “took her tea with her, and I grabbed a plastic bag with a book in it, and we ran to the cellar,” said her friend, Alla Bazarnaya, 40, from Kharkiv.
Bazarnaya said she moved into Kosolopenko in January after the couple became friends in a hospital in Kharkiv where she was treated for a stroke and her host for high blood pressure.
“The most important thing is that I felt I was spared by God and that we should get away in the basement,” she said.
The roof, the second floor and the storeroom were on fire when the couple came out.
Kosolopenko said she called a nearby fire department when neighbors rushed to her home with water-filled buckets and other containers. They could not put out the flames.
“The firefighters replied that there was shelter, and they could not come here,” she said. “They only arrived here six hours later. If they had done it earlier, they could have put out the fire on the second floor and saved the ground floor. ”
The flames reduced her home and storage room to blackened shells, leaving the backyard covered with charred debris and ashes. Only brick walls and brick walls remained standing.
Kosolopenko said she lost everything, including the family photos and the Bible that belonged to her husband’s father.
“It hurts so much for me,” she cried. “I do not know how I will rebuild this house. I loved this place. ”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by techlives staff and is being published from a syndicated stream.)