Izmail after enemy shelling

Izmail after enemy shelling

"We thought the war was a nightmare far away from our homes": Izmail residents tell about the first shelling of the city since the beginning of the war

On the night of August 2, the Russian army attacked Izmail using Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 attack drones. The three-story building of the Sea Port, the elevator, grain hangars, tanks of one of the cargo terminals, production and storage facilities, and the administrative building of the Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company were severely damaged. Three educational institutions, one cultural institution, 15 apartments in multi-storey buildings and a dozen private houses were also damaged. This is the first attack on the city since the beginning of the war.

Ukrinform correspondents visited the city affected by the shelling.

At the entrance to the city, we see thick black smoke in the distance, a reminder of the nightly "arrivals". We head to the 11-story building of the Danube Shipping Company, which the locals call "the glass" for its similar shape and glass facade.  It is the tallest building in Izmail. All the windows in the "glass" were damaged and the walls were partially destroyed. The surrounding area is covered with glass shards.

It is crowded near the damaged building. Residents of Izmail are taking pictures of the destruction, making selfies in front of broken windows, and calling relatives via video.

- "You see, it's come to us...," we hear one man say.

When he hangs up the phone, we come closer and ask him what exactly has "come to us," since the "full-scale" has been going on for almost a year and a half.

- It has come to this. Now they will start shooting at us. We thought that they would not touch us, because we are just a stone's throw from Romania, a NATO country. But they are not afraid. Neither God nor the devil... I remember how this building was built in the early 90s, and now what's left of it? Write to your newspapers that we need protection, we need all the air defense systems we have, because what will happen? And the grain? Have you seen the elevator? We will not have a port like this!" Yuriy, a resident of the city, cannot contain his emotions.

Opposite the damaged office of the State Police there are private houses. Some of them have damaged windows. People are still cleaning the glass.

- I was so scared! Good people! We've never had anything like this! More precisely, at the beginning of the war, they hit a military unit in Loschynivka, which is outside the city. That was all.  Of course, there was an alarm, but who paid attention to it! Well, drones sometimes flew, but to bomb! I was sleeping when it all started. It was so scary! My house was shaking, and I ran into the hallway. Why did they do this to us? Have you seen what they did to the Sea Port?" says Iryna, a resident of the affected building.

Indeed, the Sea Port building was much more damaged than the office of the Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company.

There is nothing left of the facade at all. There is a pile of garbage in the square in front of the building. There is broken glass, fragments of some hardware, and just pieces of walls. It should be noted that the building of the Sea Port, the pride of the townspeople, was overhauled in 2019, at a cost of over UAH 50 million.

In front of the former entrance to the Sea Port, we see a mangled blue skiff - the tree was knocked down by an explosive wave.

- What are you filming? It would be better to remove the glass," we hear from the utility workers, who are clearly irritated by the reporters.

Meanwhile, locals are walking around the square near the Sea Port with their families. Children are playing with the rubble of the building. Adults say that "now Izmail has a landmark". Some people leave the square, taking a small piece of the facade with them as a souvenir. Some are engaged in "analytics" and explain to their friends the reason for the attack.

- This is revenge. They struck because three ships came in and broke the grain blockade. They attacked to make them afraid. They hit the elevator too. They will continue to hit," we overhear the conversation of the three young men.

We also saw the destroyed elevator, but from a distance. We can't film it because it is an infrastructure facility. But even the thought that there is destroyed Ukrainian bread under the rubble of concrete and iron makes it painful.

On the way to our car, which we left near the police office, we continue to talk to locals. They all say about the same thing: people did not expect the attack on the city. Everyone believed in the mythical protection of the neighborhood with a NATO member state. People relaxed and had the false impression that the war was a horror far away from their homes. But the war affects everyone.

Hanna Bodrova, Odesa

Photo: Nina Lyashonok

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