Russian artillery falls on Kramatorsk, an already devastated city

Wounded local resident Volodymir lying inside a flat, at an apartment building destroyed in a military strike, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on July 7, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

KRAMATORSK (NYTIMES) - A rocket that Ukrainian officials said was fired by Russian forces hit the centre of the city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday (July 7), gouging a deep crater in a residential area, killing one person and wounding six others.

The rocket landed on a patch of ground beside apartment complexes and a hotel on a central street. A man sitting on a bench in the yard of one apartment complex was killed in the strike, and a woman was severely wounded, according to officials and witnesses. The man's body lay in a bag in the yard as police officers checked the surrounding buildings. Six buildings including the hotel were damaged, officials said.

Residents had been cooking and eating together in the yard since the war began, said one former resident, Anastasia, 25. She had been visiting and had just left the area when she heard the strike and came back to help, she said.

"He was here, outside," she said. "He had no chance."

Kramatorsk, along with the nearby town of Sloviansk, are both in Donetsk province, and the cities have been targeted by multiple artillery strikes in recent days, as Russian forces have turned their sights on Donetsk after capturing the last city in neighboring Luhansk province.

Ukrainian officials have urged the remaining population to leave before a full Russian assault they believe will start soon.

The city of Kramatorsk was devastated in April when a Russian missile strike hit a packed train station, killing more than 50 people.

Kramatorsk originally had a population of 150,000 people, but the city began emptying out after the missile attack. Still, thousands remain, though the city would be directly in the path of a new Russian offensive.

Volodymyr Tarasov, a 66-year-old retired engineer, was drinking a cup of tea in his kitchen on the fourth floor of one apartment building when the rocket hit.

"There was such a bang, and this is the result," he said, showing his wrecked apartment. His head was heavily bandaged, and his neck and back were cut and bleeding from the shattered glass.

Tarasov lost his wife to a stroke 18 months ago. Now he was afraid for his only other companion: his cat of eight years, who disappeared after the rocket strike.

"It's so bad, the feeling in my heart, I can't express it," he said. "This is a complete horror."

But he said he did not intend to leave Kramatorsk.

"I don't want to leave," he said. Everywhere was dangerous in Ukraine, he added. "You can't escape fate."

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