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We have to get our daughter out of Irpin

author Marcin Suder
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This coverage contains an audio track

It's March 5, 2022. Russian troops have been attacking Irpin for some time, but the city has been under heavy artillery fire for several days. On that day, Russians announced the opening of a humanitarian corridor for the residents.

It's March 5, 2022. Russian troops have been attacking Irpin for some time, but the city has been under heavy artillery fire for several days. On that day, Russians announced the opening of a humanitarian corridor for the residents.

It's March 5, 2022. Russian troops have been attacking Irpin for some time, but the city has been under heavy artillery fire for several days. On that day, Russians announced the opening of a humanitarian corridor for the residents.

The parents of 10-year-old Kristina reach the bridge at 3.39 p.m. The bridge was blown up some time ago by the Ukrainian army to stop the Russian armoured columns from passing through. However, underneath it, a system of footbridges has been created to enable the residents of Irpin to evacuate.
About an hour ago, the fire over the city became more intense, and the Russians began shelling the bridge, so the evacuation was halted. People hid under the bridge.

However, Kristina's parents are desperate to reach their daughter, who stays with her grandparents in her mother's home, Stella. After crossing the bridge, they are stopped by soldiers who don't allow them to go further due to heavy artillery fire and fights taking place in the city.
While the last of the lucky people from the besieged city reach the bridge, Stella and her husband persuade the soldiers to let them go. They are terrified by the situation in Irpin but also determined to reach their daughter. The soldiers finally give up, and after checking and verifying their identity, to make sure that they are not letting spies into the positions of the Ukrainian army, they allow them to enter the city.

Kristina's parents reach the defensive line of the bridge about a kilometre away, but the soldiers stop them and don't allow them to go further. The Russians have taken over the skyscrapers in the distance, where the fire is coming from. Seeing how these are some of the highest points in the city, there are Russian artillery coordinators there who are targeting the city. Ukrainian soldiers tell Kristina's parents not to go further because the Ukrainian artillery is about to fire at the skyscrapers.

Suddenly, a car passes by, and the parents shout at it to stop. The soldiers join them, and the car stops. The driver agrees to take them to the city.

The city is deserted. The Russian artillery is carrying out shelling while the car goes through the streets.

Kristina's parents are very lucky. The driver is on his way to Stella's parent's street. Moreover, the car pulls up right by their building. When they're getting out of the car, a woman runs up to them, looking for shelter.

Her nearby house was just hit by an artillery shell and destroyed. The woman and her several-year-old daughter miraculously survived, but now they have nowhere else to hide, and they seek refuge in the basements of the nearby skyscrapers.

More people are joining the group looking for shelter. They're circling the buildings trying to find an entrance to the basement.

Eventually, they manage to find it.

There is complete darkness in the basement. Just now, those who went down are calling, looking for the hiding people.

Finally, they find them.

Stella finds her father there.

But she can't find Kristina.

Kristina's dad starts convincing people to run from the city. He tells them that buses are waiting across the bridge to take them somewhere safe. Later, they will be evacuated to Kyiv, where, compared to Irpin, it's safe.

When Stella discovers that her daughter is not in the shelter because she is staying with her grandmother in an apartment on the fourth floor, she runs out of the basement to go to her.

She reaches the floor where her parents' apartment is located and her mother and daughter in it. The corridor where the doors to individual apartments are located is separated from the staircase by an entrance door. However, the doorbells don't work because there is no electricity.

Ultimately, Stella manages to find her daughter Kristina.

Stella tries to convince her parents to run from the besieged city. At first, they don't want to, but finally, they give in to their daughter's persuasions and start packing.

Despite the threat, it is difficult to decide to leave behind everything they have. It's also challenging to choose what to pack because a person never knows where they will end up. The lack of savings also does not help because no one knows how to live and survive. However, Stella explains to her parents that there are volunteers in Kyiv and refugees get help. Time is running out. There are constant explosions around the building, and it will get dark soon.

Finally, they are ready to go.

Below, Kristina's father is trying to persuade the neighbours to flee Irpin because the Russians are already in the city and may soon come here. Despite this, not many people decide to go.

They continue trying to persuade the people for some time, but finally, they decide to head out to the bridge.

Stella's happy because she found Kristina. Unfortunately, this is not the end, but only the beginning. Now they have to reach the bridge. This time, they didn't find a car to drive them there. A five-kilometre march ahead of them to reach a relatively safe location, from where they can be evacuated further.

They are on the go with what they've managed to pack in such a hurry.

Together with Stella's family, the group of refugees consists of 10 people.

They have a long way to go, and the city is under constant artillery fire.

It's hard to feel safe, but the shelling is relatively far.

However, the fire continues, and missiles explode all around.

Sometimes they fall close to the group.

However, to survive, they have to reach the bridge.

There are also signs of tanks, and it's not certain whether Russian troops are already in this area or not.

They manage to reach a distance of 1.7 km from the bridge quite safely. However, they found themselves in the vicinity of skyscrapers occupied by the Russian army, from where the coordinators give the artillery positions of targets in the city.

Suddenly, the shelling gets worse, and the projectiles start to fall closer and closer.

There is a whistle of falling projectiles, and the group has to fall to the ground now and then to protect itself from explosions.

Even though they've just walked a distance of a few kilometres, now walking a few metres becomes a problem.

They are looking for shelter...

To protect themselves from the surrounding shelling.

The ground begins to tremble, with explosions getting closer and closer.

The fear paralyses.

Fragments of projectiles begin to fall on them.

It's challenging to take a step. There comes a terrifying moment when they realise that this is no longer an accidental shelling of the city – they have become a target. The artillery coordinator enters corrections to their position. The projectiles are falling closer and closer.

Staying here means death. To survive, they have to move further towards the position of Ukrainian soldiers, where Kristina's parents managed to stop the car.

Here there is a white card or flash animation. The sound of screeching in the ears.

Blinding flash. And then darkness. They say you can't hear a bullet that hits you. This time, that was the case, perhaps because it wasn't an artillery shell but a mortar.

This is where the audio is cut off, probably because of the shock wave from the explosion. The recorder records a few minutes after the explosion, but after that, the recording stops.

The shock wave from the first projectile blew the group away like rag dolls and scattered them all over.

This probably saved their lives…

when two more projectiles came because at that moment, everyone was lying on the ground.

When people were getting up in shock, the Russian coordinator continued to direct the artillery to their position.

It's possible that the first shell hit a building and fell into an apartment, not landing next to them on the street. Otherwise, they would have been killed instantly.

After a moment, when the shock goes away, and you realise what happened, you realise you're still alive.

You check if you are injured and who was injured next to you.

And you start saving the life of your injured child...

even though the shelling continues, and you're wounded as well.

Out of ten people who went for the bridge, five have been injured, including 10-year-old Kristina and her grandmother – both severely.

Despite the ongoing fire, some of the survivors sat down at a bus stop in shock. The rest of the group, who hid in the nearby forest, cried out to them to hide there too.
The nearby forest, which stretched up to the line of the Ukrainian army, constitutes the second factor that saved their lives because the Russian coordinator lost sight of the runaways.
That's also where the triage began. The group members decided to leave the seriously injured grandmother because they could not carry her due to their injuries. They decided to fight primarily for Kristina's life, even though carrying her was a great challenge for them.

The forest gave them hope and a moment of rest. When they crossed 550 m, the forest became thinned and more projectiles flew towards them. The group was pinned down once again. Injured and exhausted by carrying Kristina, they decided that they could not reach the Ukrainian trenches, so one person decided to go there alone and get help. Successfully...

The Ukrainian soldiers immediately set off to the indicated location where the group with the injured Kristina and her parents waited for them. Kristina's father was injured as well.

A van was sent to pick them up and take them to the bridge. Thanks to the instructions of the survivors and using a drone, the soldiers managed to locate the wounded grandmother and the other members of the group. They were also evacuated to the bridge.

From there, a military ambulance took them to a hospital located 6 km away.

The smoke column indicates where the group was shelled. In the left part of the frame, it is possible to see the skyscrapers, where the Russian artillery coordinator was located.

The wounded have been taken to a hospital, where they were helped.

Their data was also collected. Despite the injuries, no one from the group was killed, and everyone managed to reach the destination. Even though they got out of Irpin and their situation improved, they did not escape the war. Around the hospital, explosions were heard all through the night.

The next day Kristina was taken to the Okhmatdyt children's hospital in the centre of Kyiv. On that same day, the Ukrainian air defence of the capital shot down a missile launched by the Russians and aimed at this very hospital.

Marcin Suder

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