Civilians caught in Russian shelling around Kharkiv
At least three civilians have been killed in the village of Yakovlivka as thousands continue to flee Kharkiv, hit by heavy shelling.
Yakovlivka, Ukraine – Maxim was at home with his girlfriend when shells started crashing into his village of Yakovlivka, near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Shrapnel ripped through his arm and face.
“It happened so quickly, the explosions … I heard something flying over us,” he told Al Jazeera from a hospital on Thursday, where he is now receiving treatment.
“I was covered up to my waist in rubble and something started burning. I tried to free myself, then I tried to get my girlfriend. I was so weak I couldn’t pull her out.”
Civilians have been caught in heavy shelling of their homes in and around Kharkiv, a predominantly Russian speaking city, which has been under attack since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
Emergency services managed to rescue Maxim’s partner, but she is heavily concussed and is too weak to talk.
Another woman died in the operating theatre as doctors tried to save her life.
“At least three people were killed in heavy Russian shelling of this village last night, a number of others injured,” Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford said, reporting from Yakovlivka.
“We understand there are still people in the village, but we’ve just heard shelling in the distance and machine-gun fire in the forests on the way.”
Piles of rubble now line the streets after shells slammed into houses on the side of the hill. At least 30 homes were destroyed.
Despite heavy shelling and its proximity to the Russian border, Kharkiv is still under Ukrainian control.
Ukrainian authorities said indiscriminate shelling on Wednesday had “pounded all night” residential areas in Kharkiv, which United Nations prosecutors are investigating as a possible war crime.
Many of the city’s 1.5 million people have fled.
One woman in hospital told Al Jazeera that Russian soldiers let her family escape, but as they drove away, a bullet ripped through her husband’s hand.
“Why did they tell us everything would be OK? Why wasn’t there an evacuation?” she said, distressed.
‘It’s hell’: Civilians caught in Russian shelling around Kharkiv Al Jazeera English