When they heard an explosion hit nearby just before midnight, Anastasia Zabolotnya and Andriy Stupak ran for their basement, escaping moments before a Russian rocket tore through the roof of their home.

The first missile left a gaping hole in the center of the local football pitch in the village of Prydniprovske, in the Dnipro region of southern Ukraine.

“It saved us that the first incoming was there,” Zabolotnya said. “The second one (landed) on our house.”

The young couple, ages 17 and 19, lived in the house with Zabolotnya’s mother and younger brother, who also survived by running for shelter.

Ukrainian officials say the two missiles came from Russian forces based a few miles away across the Dnipro River at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which the Russians have controlled since March.

Local residents in the cities of Nikopol, Marhanets, and the surrounding villages have been targeted by shelling from troops at the plant for weeks.

Ukraine accuses the Russians of using the highly sensitive location as a shield, and has urged them to allow an inspection by nuclear experts and a demilitarized zone, to prevent a nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky held trilateral talks in Lviv on Thursday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who warned of the danger of “a new Chernobyl” due to the escalating situation.

For those living in the shadow of the plant, life is now on tenterhooks.

He said the Russians are shelling his village to “spread panic and terror,” but he can’t understand why they are putting the nuclear plant at risk.

“Perhaps they don’t understand what they are doing,” Stupak said.

A week after the missile hit Zabolotnya’s home, stray kittens from the village now clamber over the remnants of the rocket which ripped through the house. The family is living in a nearby hostel, and slowly trying to clear out the piles of rubble and the debris that used to be their possessions.  

But the fear will take longer to fix.

“It’s very scary,” Zabolotnya said. Now, they are afraid of “every rustle,” Stupak said.


Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: Mr Blow Up