Opinion | Statements From the Siege of Mariupol, Ukraine

A friend of mine died. Two shells struck his apartment while he was in the kitchen and killed him. His wife, son, father and mother-in-law were in the next room. His wife received shrapnel wounds to the head and so did his mother-in-law. But his 82-year-old father was unharmed. They ran out of the apartment just before it caught fire and then they could not go back there anymore. But my friend, Vitya, will stay in that apartment forever.

And we went to get water, stepping over the bodies of people who went to get water the day before. Finally, we found running water in one of the buildings, many people were already there and we could not bring too much of it with us because we had to carry it a long way. But we went for water every day, and every day we looked at new bodies lying on the road.

– Hanna Drobot, 47, media professional

After March 2 we lost light, water and then gas. The city was plunged into darkness, but the worst things were the lack of communication with the relatives and all radio stations being jammed by the enemy. On March 6, a massive artillery shelling rained down on our entire district, all houses were damaged, they said that 10 people died. One of the shells hit the apartment of my friend, who lived on the last, third floor of the building: It went through the roof and got stuck in her floor. From that day on, I was very afraid to go up to my apartment. Life in the basement began on March 6. There were 15 of us including two children of 6 and 16 years of age. We spent two weeks down there, visiting the apartment once or twice a day. Food was cooked on the fire near the building entrance: We built a small brick oven, started a fire and took turns cooking. The same arrangements took place at every building entrance, all happening under a heavy cannonade. And then the airplanes started dropping bombs. We learned the sounds of air raids and knew what was flying and where, we knew when we could cook or when we had to escape to the basement. It was cold and dark in the basement, we started to run out of candles and made oil lamps. There was constant darkness, day and night.

– Liubov (family name withheld), 65, retired

These statements were recorded, transcribed and translated from the Russian and Ukrainian by Olena IvantsivKateryna Iakovlenko and Tetiana Bezruk, journalists from Ukraine.

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