Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukrainian families waited in freezing weather on Sunday for their relatives to cross the Russian side of the Dnipro River into Kherson, a city that has been bombed since Ukraine recaptured it from Russian forces last month. violent explosions.
Military officials in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region warned on Saturday of an escalation in fighting in the region and said they would temporarily lift a ban on crossings to help evacuate citizens from Russian-occupied territory on the east coast.
Under the three-day amnesty that began on Saturday, Ukrainians living in villages across the river can cross the Dnipro River during the day and to a certain point.
But as the second day of amnesty drew to a close, Kherson City Council officials were quoted in the media as saying that Russian gunfire had killed a woman who was crossing the Dnipro River with her husband in a boat. The husband was not injured.
No other river crossings were reported.
About 20 people waited mournfully with a group of soldiers and an ambulance in the Kherson river port, the sound of incessant shelling echoed nearby.
Olena, 40, who revealed only her first name and declined to give her surname to protect her family’s identity, said she was expecting her 10-year-old daughter.
Olena had flown to Germany for work just days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February and had not been able to see her daughter since.
“I haven’t seen my daughter in nine months,” Olena said worriedly.
“I wish I could take them,” she said.
“scary, very scary”
Civilians wanting to take advantage of the amnesty, which expires Monday night, are required to show proof of Ukrainian citizenship and use of their own boats.
Anastasia, who gave only her first name, said she was in the port because she hoped to cross the river the other way, into Russian-controlled territory where her relatives are.
Yesterday I saw an evacuation letter, but it turned out that there were no boats and I had to go myself. How can I do this? What should I do ? She said “I don’t know what to do”.
I’m afraid I’ll die alone here and no one will know. It’s very scary and scary. »
Intense artillery attacks
Russian forces have intensified their artillery shelling of the Kherson region since their withdrawal from the western bank of the Dnipro River. Ukrainian officials say dozens of people have been killed in attacks in the region.
Anastasia said that the houses on her street had been destroyed by Russian missiles in recent days.
“The situation there is no better…but at least we will die together.”
Mykola, 73, said his daughter was on the eastern bank of the river when Kherson was liberated and he was stuck, alone, in Russian-controlled territory. “Now she can’t go back.”
He said, “She wants to go home.” Her daughter and husband are all in Kherson. You have to come back one way or another. »
Editing by Tom Palmforth, Raisa Kasulowski, and Cynthia Osterman
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