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Ukrainians in Mariupol fear for family, friends after Russian attacks from 'hell': 'The city is on fire'


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Global attention fell on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol after news of Russia‘s missile attacks on the city surfaced Thursday.

An estimated 17 people were injured and three were killed, including one child, after Russian forces shelled residential buildings and a children’s hospital with a maternity ward, according to Ukrainian officials.

Now, Ukrainians with friends and family in the city are struggling to contact their loved ones to make sure they are okay.

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Vira Protskych, who grew up in Mariupol but recently fled to Rivne — more than 600 miles from her hometown — told Fox News Digital that the city looks like it came out of “a typical American apocalyptic film, but it is real.”

Vira Protskych and her hometown of Mariupol before the war. (Credit: Vira Protskych)

Vira Protskych and her hometown of Mariupol before the war. (Credit: Vira Protskych)

“The city is in ruin. Many buildings like hospitals and fire stations and university campuses and private houses are destroyed. [Blocks] of flats were burnt because shells fell there. Many buildings do not have windows. The city is on fire,” she said. “People live in hell now in Mariupol. There are shelling and bombing of the city — civilian areas.”

She said she calls her parents up to 30 times a day but still fails “to reach them every time.” Her neighbor’s son managed to contact his uncle, who shares news about Protskych’s house and family, but those updates come only once every “two, three or even five days.”

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Protskych and Olena Ivantsiv, who also grew up in Mariupol but is currently based in Prague, detailed similar scenes in the beloved city where they grew up based on what they have heard from contacts still there.

Residents of Mariupol have no gas, water, electricity, internet or stable cell connection. Many are drinking rainwater or melted snow. People stand in long lines for humanitarian aid and the few grocery stores still operating.

“People are collecting rainwater. They’re making fires in the [court]yards of many historic buildings … because Mariupol is this industrial, Soviet city,” Ivasntsiv said. “People don’t have any electricity, and the gas is not working. And because there is no water, they are collecting the rainwater. It’s really a disaster. I cannot even imagine.”

Ivantsiv also described a fear of Russian soldiers on the outskirts of the city, saying ceasefire agreements made since last week have failed.

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She believes that “98%” of Ukrainians want to stay in Ukraine, are the other 2% are mostly people with small children who “don’t know how to survive and how to make sure that the kids don’t get traumatized and killed.”

Ukrainians are trying to stay optimistic, and there is an overwhelming sense of pride for the country’s citizens and leaders, but Russia’s invasion has been shocking.

Ukrainian soldiers ride in a military vehicle in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Ukrainian soldiers ride in a military vehicle in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

“When it happened on the 24th of February, everyone was shocked, and everyone is still shocked because the situation is still developing. They don’t know what to do. So, for example, in Mariupol, that was supposed to be the first target from the very beginning of the invasion, but it was pretty calm during the first phase of the war,” Ivantsiv said, explaining that Mariupol is a strategic get for Russia because of its proximity to Crimea.

“People just don’t know what to do, where to go, and [how far] from their hometowns to go,” she continued.

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An estimated 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine so far, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that 549 Ukrainians have been killed as of Thursday, and nearly a thousand others have been injured since Russia began invading on Feb. 24.

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