The terror in the capital began before dawn when people were still asleep. So it was still dark when the residents of a nine-storey apartment block in the Obolon district were shaken awake by a tremendous explosion.
Elderly people told us how they stumbled about in the dark, terrified, trying to find a way to escape. Fires broke out in several areas of the block. Every window was shattered.
The explosion struck fear into the hearts of all who heard it and ripped the soul out of the building, destroying one of the main stairwells, making it impossible for many to clamber down.
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Fire crews raced to use their extended ladders and pull people to safety on stretchers amid fears gas cannisters and cookers would ignite further fires and create further smaller explosions.
One man with cuts on his face told us how his room was blown away as he slept: “I was woken by this huge explosion…. and everything in the room was on the floor…windows,… the TV, everything.
Obolon was devastated by the strikes
“My television had been smashed into the wall in front of the window…I climbed out over from the rubble…and then I saw my neighbours were also alive…they got out through my window….because they couldn’t get out any other way.”
He went on: “I’m lucky to be alive. I can’t believe I am. I tried to find my cat but I couldn’t…I smelled gas and the emergency services told me to hurry because they were worried it could explode.”
Like many other residents, he went into the devastated building several times trying to pick up vital documents and essential clothes and to try to find scared and lost pets.
He was spotted later carrying his cat. The animal hadn’t survived.
Looking at the building it’s a wonder anyone survived. Every window was shattered with a number of surrounding walls felled and opening out into what was once someone’s home.
Kitchens still had coffee cups hanging on the walls, while clothing and soft toys were still laying in the corner of sitting rooms.
Several floors were burned through. The Kyiv authorities believe one person died and just over a handful were injured.
But within the space of a few hours, the population of the capital city must have felt like there were multiple strikes raining down on them.
People were woken up to the sound of explosions
Air raid sirens went off continuously throughout the main city. The sky in several areas had a patchwork of streaks from anti-aircraft missiles aimed apparently at Russian jets.
The Anatov aircraft plant just six miles from the capital’s centre was also attacked, sending a big plume of black smoke into the city’s skyline.
And the third attack, also in the north of the city and just a few miles away from the earlier hit on Obolon, appeared to have been stopped by the country’s air defence system.
But debris still showered homes and offices in the district of Kurenivka. Much of it seemed to land on a tram and taxi in this second heavily built-up residential area.
‘They can destroy Kyiv but not take it’
‘This is genocide in the middle of Europe’
After surveying the scene, the Ukrainian MP Alex Goncharenko, who’s now part of the armed civil defence army, accused the Russian leader and military of war crimes.
“He (Putin) can’t win against our army,” he told Sky News. “Our army is holding the ground so he’s starting to fight with unarmed people, with pregnant women like those in Mariupol, with children, with civilians who’re just living… that’s genocide, in the 21st Century, in the middle of Europe.”
Russia has been accused of targeting hospitals, schools and homes for weeks now – accusations they continue to deny.
Attacking civilian areas and non-combatants is a war crime – and Ukrainian lawyers who are gathering evidence for a possible future prosecution say the Russian troops appear to be specifically focusing on food supply chains.
Kyiv is coming under intense fire from Russian troops
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The former deputy prosecutor general Gyunduz Mamedov, told us there was a large bread factory very close to the residential block in Obolon: “They could have been trying to attack the food supply chain for the city – it wouldn’t be the first time.”
Several residents cried and hugged each other as they watched the fire crews try to douse the embers still smoking in their former homes.
But less than half an hour later, the residents were busy rebuilding and mending homes that they could patch together.
“I feel terrible,” one resident said as he hammered together wood to board up his home. He broke down mid-sentence, beating his chest.
MP Alex Goncharenko warned Putin would not win
He was brimming with rage and emotion. “I’m sorry,” he said to us about his momentary lack of self-control, apparently ashamed at this display of perfectly understandable heartbreak.
He could barely talk and thumps his chest in exasperation and said: “This is the result of appeasement.”
He was talking about the West’s reluctance to get directly involved in this war.
Several storeys up in the Obolon apartment block, two young people are clearing out what seems to be an utterly destroyed flat.
They’ve planted a Ukrainian flag on the burned-out and crumbling balcony. “They have to know we’re strong”, one shouts down to us. I reckon Russia and the rest of the world know that now.