War in Ukraine: The horror at the Kramatorsk station: “We saw a burned corpse inside a car and many bodies” | International

Thousands of people trying to escape from one of the hottest regions of the war in Ukraine have been passing through the station in the city of Kramatorsk for weeks. The influx of passengers has been increasing in recent days as the authorities begged civilians to seek refuge outside this area, where the attacks of the invading Russian forces were expected to harden, but this Friday that trip was brutally cut short. . Nate Mook, CEO of World Central Kitchen (WCK), the organization led by Spanish chef José Andrés, passed by the station two minutes before the brutal attack that killed at least 52 people. “I was driving with a colleague from the organization to go load flour,” Mook says on the phone, “and we saw a lot of people at the station.” They discussed the number of trains that needed to arrive so that everyone could flee to a safer part of the country. “Two minutes later,” Mook continues, “we heard between five and 10 explosions.” They ran to the warehouse in search of the bunker. They did not know where the explosions had taken place.

WCK comes to the Kramatorsk station daily to feed and drink those waiting to leave the Russian bomb-hit eastern fringe of Ukraine and head west. They talk to them. Most do not go to cross the border but to places without violence within their territory. Shortly after the attack, Mook returned to the station with his team. Now they knew that they had struck where they had been carrying out their work so recently.

“What we saw was catastrophic, horrible,” Mook continues. The emergency teams and firefighters had rushed to attend to the victims. The cars were still on fire, the damage was enormous, glass on the floor and unexploded projectiles. “In one of the cars there was a person who had burned to death,” recalls Mook, “and on the station platforms many bodies.” Mook admits that he is shocked by the attack, but declares himself, insists, “lucky” in relation to all those who have lost their lives.

Disrupted delivery of medical supplies

The strong explosion surprised the Unicef ​​team at the Kramatorsk health department building around 10:30 am on Friday. The station in the Ukrainian city, located less than a kilometer away from where they were, had been attacked and the messages that immediately reached the phones of members of the local administration, to whom they were delivering medical supplies, reported the tragedy.

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Everyone left the building, and the Unicef ​​team, in which there was no doctor, returned, without having completed the delivery of kits of hygiene and water, medical materials and medicines, to Dnipro, about 250 kilometers away, where the base of operations in the region of this UN agency dedicated to children is located. “We condemn in the strongest terms the attack on the Kramatorsk railway station in Ukraine,” said Murat Sahin, Unicef’s representative in Ukraine, in the statement released on Friday. “We don’t yet know how many children have been killed or injured in this attack, but we fear the worst.” According to the mayor of Kramatorsk, about 4,000 families were at the station when the attack took place, and the death toll is 50, including five children, and more than a hundred injured.

Unicef ​​closed its office in Kramatorsk on February 23, the eve of the Russian attack on Ukraine, and the agency’s last worker left there two weeks ago, but they have continued to deliver medical supplies to the city. Last week they brought some 50 tons of vital supplies there, but the truck that arrived in the city this Friday had been waiting for two days as this was considered a “high-risk delivery”, according to the organization’s spokesman, John Haro. In Transcarpathia, in the southwest of Ukraine, where Haro is located, they have received in these weeks the refugees who left from Kramatorsk and other cities of the country, but the train from Thursday coming from there was suspended without there being a clarification of the reasons. .

Jean-Clément Cabro, coordinator of the medicalized trains of Médecins Sans Frontières, left the attacked station just a few hours before the attack took place, aboard one of the organization’s three wagons that cross the country. Two are used to transport hospitalized patients, the third is for medicines, doctors and medical supplies, water and food. “On this last trip we transferred 40 patients from Kramatorsk, and on the previous one another 17. There were mostly wounded,” he explains by phone. “At the station they were waiting mainly women and children, women breastfeeding their children, grandmothers, also teenagers. These were entire families, with only one piece of luggage. I will not forget those people who were waiting to be evacuated”, he relates.

Nerve point in the evacuation of civilians to the west of the country, the bombing of the Kramatorsk station, which the Russian authorities deny having committed, hit two waiting areas outside and a platform, according to reporters from Washington Post They entered the scene moments later. A trail of bodies and wounded crowded the station where members of the Ukrainian Army, police and volunteers tried to offer help. “There are so many bodies, there are children, they are just children,” a woman shouted in one of the videos of the tragic scene released.

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