Ukraine war: ‘Mother, I’m scared’ – Zaporizhzhia city devastated by rocket attacks

At least five people have been killed in a series of Russian rocket attacks on Ukraine’s southern city of Zaporizhzhia, local officials say.

They say the rockets hit residential buildings before dawn and then again several hours later. People are reported to be under the rubble.

Rescue workers are now combing through the shattered remains of one elegant five-storey apartment building.

Glass and rubble is strewn across, and nearby shops are wrecked.

Olha Chobotariova, who lives nearby, told the BBC: “My children were frightened. The windows blew out. My daughter got so frightened she hid in a corner and I couldn’t drag her out.

“I told her, please come to me and she said: ‘No mother, I’m scared.’

Olha Chobotariova: “I will never forgive Russia for this”

“I don’t understand how they could do it. There were all just people, children. We haven’t done anything. Why are they torturing us like this?

“My soul aches for our Ukraine. I have no words. It really hurts me. I will never forgive Russia for this. I won’t. We should take revenge and take it to the end. Because we’re Ukrainians. We’re a strong nation. I can’t accept this.”

Alla Yermachenko, another local resident, told the BBC her elderly relatives were in one of the destroyed buildings.

“There’s very little hope that they’re alive. Why are they doing this to us? What are they trying to prove? Killing old people. Why? For what?” Ms Yermachenko said.

“May our tears drop not on the ground but on the chests of those who launched that missile.”

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office reacted to the attack by saying that “Russian terrorists know how to fight only with peaceful people”.

“Crazy cowards,” he added.

Zaporizhzhia regional head Oleksandr Starukh said one woman was killed. Another seven people, including a three-year-old child, were injured.
Map showing the four regions Russia is annexing. Updated 3 October

Russia has so far made no comments on the issue.

The Ukrainian-held city is the capital of the eponymous Zaporizhzhia region, which Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week declared annexed, along with three other Ukrainian regions – Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, and Kherson in the south. Ukraine and its Western allies condemned the move.

Moscow does not fully control any of the four regions, and in recent weeks Ukrainian troops have made significant advances in the the country’s north-east and south.

On Wednesday, Russia said it was now taking over the operation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, located in the Moscow-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region.

Ukraine said it was still in charge, condemning the Russian move. It was unclear how Kyiv could still control the station seized by Moscow during the first days of its invasion launched on 24 February.

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog is currently visiting Ukraine and later Russia to try to defuse the crisis.

There are fears that a major incident at the plant could lead to radioactive contamination of much of Europe.

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