I WENT TO VISIT MY GRANDMOTHER AND ENDED UP IN A BESIEGED CITY. MARIUPOL RESIDENT'S STORY
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Mariupol found itself under a brutal siege almost immediately. The second largest city in the Donetsk region and the most important Ukrainian port on the Sea of Azov is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe and is subjected to constant shelling.
In Mariupol there is no water, heat, gas, electricity, communications. According to official figures, the number of dead civilians has already exceeded 3,000. The real number of casualties cannot be calculated due to constant fighting. The social portal publishes the story of Alexei, who, by coincidence, found himself in the city on the first day of the war. And survived. Now he and his family are in relative safety.
I woke up at 7 am on February 24 in the train Kyiv - Mariupol, woke up from a wild cold that binds the kidneys. People fussed, shouted. We stood in Pologi, we were told that they were bombing ahead. We stood and went to Volnovakha. We stood there, the guides were given their work cards, and we drove to Mariupol.
I get out at the Mariupol railway station - and in the courtyard of 2014, Western journalists, hung with cameras, swear on the phone in English, people run, shout, and artillery rattles in the sky in every way. And indeed, everything was the same as in 2014 - panic in shops and markets, military equipment rolls along the sidewalks, shells fly to the outskirts. And everything would be great if everything was like in 2014. Just the news that the blast furnaces had been put out gave rise to serious anxiety.
Akhmetov obviously knew something.
On March 1, the lights went out. Then the water disappeared. Next is heating. And on March 2, we finally entered the 17th century - gas and communications were gone. This is where it got out of hand. The nights, the darkest nights of my life, were lit only by flashes of explosions outside the window. Clouds came to the city - the sky hung over us like an endless leaden dome. Constant semi-darkness and cold - the coldest March in my memory.
To survive without gas and running water, we had to cut down trees and pump water from a well.
Every day began with the first rays of the sun, as long as there is light on the street, you can work. First you need to go to the well a couple of kilometers from the house - stand in line for 3-4 hours, draw water and bring it home. Then it's time to saw the tree cut down yesterday into firebrands, chop them for firewood and then kindle a fire - and after 6 hours you can drink tea. In principle, we drank only tea - raw water is unfit for drinking, you can get cholera, and in our conditions this would mean death.
Then a couple of mortar shells flew into our 9-story building, fortunately not at us.
One hit the stairwell on the 9th floor, and the second hit the first floor window - 2 dead and wounded. They [the dead] had no relatives. The police came and forbade the burial. The wounded were taken away and taken to the hospital.
Without electricity, computers do not work, and without them, the goods are not released - the shops are closed. Therefore, on the 3rd day without gas, people went to open stores. First, the military requisitioned cigarettes, sausage, tampons and pads (for dressings). People followed them. They opened pharmacies, grocery stores, clothing stores, and personal care stores.
The police did not interfere.
The next day the real marauders came. They went for the tech. There has been no electricity for almost a week, and they are dragging electric grills, TVs and headphones. Here the police showed themselves: the marauders in blurry tattoos were undressed and allowed to run around in the frost -9.
On March 8, terrible shelling began, enemy artillery worked constantly, falling silent only in the dead of night and at lunchtime.
We started using aviation. Air bombs are much more terrible than artillery - from the explosion, the shock wave shakes the house. The mother could not stand it, broke into tears. I prayed constantly. In general, mothers were the worst - my father and I, as men, were constantly busy working on the street - stabbing, sawing, carrying, standing in line. And she had to be constantly at home, cooking food and praying for us. She was very afraid for us. The younger sister looked at me and my father and was not particularly worried.
Then we saw thick black smoke in the area where my great aunt lived.
I decided to see what was happening there, went to my grandmother under shelling. Horror was happening in her area - completely burnt out 9-story buildings, corpses on the streets, scraps of ceilings of houses. Grandma, fortunately, is alive.
One day (they all mixed up, merged into one) my father and I went to the market, which, according to rumors, was still working. We, in principle, received information only from rumors - even the radio did not catch. Well, on the way to the market we see a picture: a bent power line, 3 corpses in a semicircle and all in fragments. As if in reality, I saw how it all happened: a shell hits power lines, shrapnel stitches unfortunate passers-by. They came to the market, and it was empty there - they fired at it, destroyed everything edible. There was a container with potatoes - they hit it right, burnt potatoes were scattered everywhere.
The only thing that survived was a persimmon from one Armenian, well, he gave us the box - it makes no sense to trade in such a situation.
Sleep was difficult. And it's not even the cold, from which the layers of blankets and sweaters did not save, but the constant shock waves from which the house shakes, and flashes. We live on the 8th floor - you can see everything.
One morning the sun finally came out. I went out to the loggia to sit and warm up. He just relaxed, closed his eyes - a roar, a blow. Yes, such that the floor began to leave from under his feet.
I look - they hit the school. In the 66th. The bomb came from an aircraft.
When the dust settled, I went there. I could not believe my eyes, I could not breathe - my throat was squeezed with horror. Filled with copybooks, textbooks and notebooks lay around. Above - a thick layer of concrete chips. Everywhere pieces of reinforcement and ceilings. A crater remained at the entrance to the school, the explosion destroyed the second, first and basement floors, broke through the foundation.
Marauders brought me to my senses - they climbed into the remains of the school to drag everything that survived from there.
Stolen cigarettes and dying sausage were already sold in the city. And after the start of active bombing, the assortment of “street vendors” included what was taken out of the broken apartments and administrative buildings.
At some point, we ran out of meat. It turned out that it was impossible to eat empty potatoes after a whole day of physical activity. On the day when the authorities allowed the stores to be taken out, the police distributed medications.
Some of them I managed to exchange with "street vendors" for a couple of sticks of not the worst sausage.
There are more and more destroyed private houses in the city. If they are abandoned, you can climb up there and find "kindling". After all, even a dry March acacia burns worse than old Soviet furniture or a window frame.
Once I saw that a shell hit the house, on the second floor, the window frames were destroyed by shear. I climbed into that yard and began to collect this deadwood, turning the window frame into firewood along the way. The sun came out, warmed, the snow began to melt and flow from the second floor. And then I look, and another drop is dark. And soon the whole drop was melt water with blood. Apparently, someone was on the second floor, and he was killed by the explosion. In general, it was symbolic. In Mariupol - a rain of blood.
After the next arrival of air bombs, an apartment building caught fire nearby. And there are no firefighters, and no water either.
As a result, the house burned for 3 days, there was no one to extinguish it.
For 3 days I watched the fire devour the house entrance by entrance. Later, the victims of the fire went to the cellars in the neighborhood, which were already overcrowded. They were not always welcome. Somehow everything dragged on and bothered, gradually destroying consciousness. Without smoking, with a meager diet of butter, potatoes and sausages, with a lot of work and a complete lack of communication - it was sickening.
On March 14, when it became almost completely unbearable, we miraculously managed to leave the city - to the dacha.
As it turned out, there is light, communication and you can heat the stove, bring bread and water. This is a billion times more than it was in Mariupol. The next day, more refugees began to arrive. We realized that we left on time, the Russian army tried to take the city. The storm, according to eyewitnesses, came out terrible - 9-storey buildings were half.
The Khrushchevs crumbled from the blows and folded like a house of cards. And corpses, corpses, corpses. Mountains of corpses in blackened ruins.
Now I am stuck in the country with my family, with my relatives. There are 15 of us here, including children under one year old. We only have enough gasoline until Berdyansk (which is now occupied by the Russians). Therefore, we think to sit here until there is an opportunity to at least leave somewhere.
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