Tatiana’s eyes were fixed on rescue workers digging through the jumble of rubble on what was once the top floor of an apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk.
Friday afternoon, several Russian S-300 missiles slammed into her community, with an eighth hitting the nearby town of Kramatorsk. Eleven people were killed, including a toddler, and more than 20 people were wounded, local authorities said.
“The child who was killed was only 2 years old,” Tatiana told CNN, tears falling down her cheeks. “His father is still here,” she said, pointing to the building. “If they — the rescue workers — could just lift the slabs of cement they could save him.”
“It’s cold, and he’s been there for almost 24 hours,” interjected a man standing next to her.
The father and son were part of a family that had fled Sloviansk early in the war. Like many others, they recently returned after Russian forces were driven back in last autumn’s Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The missile made a direct hit on the building, throwing debris all over the surrounding area.
“I knew all the ones who were killed,” said Lilya, who had lived in the adjacent apartment block since 1977. “It’s horrible.”
Sloviansk mayor Vadym Liakh announced Saturday that a free train service would begin Tuesday, offering citizens the chance to move to safer areas in the Donetsk region, as well as accommodation, meals and social benefits. In a statement posted on his Facebook page, the mayor noted the town’s current population is 50,000 — up from 20,000 last summer.
Elsewhere, in another part of Sloviansk, a deep crater marked a missile impact point in the middle of a children’s playground. The hit had thrown dark, rich soil into the seats of a swing.
Friday had been rainy and cold, and the playground was empty when the missile struck.