Sloviansk Residents Flee City as Ukraine Forces Continue to Battle Pro-Russians

Sloviansk Residents Flee City as Ukraine Forces Continue to Battle Pro-Russians

Residents of Sloviansk, Ukraine, are leaving the city as the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian forces continue to fight for the second day. The city does not hold a large population, but it is important strategically since it is in the middle of east Ukraine.

From Reuters:

At an army checkpoint on the edge of the town, the crash of heavy artillery shelling could be heard and a plume of black smoke rose above the outskirts. Sustained bursts of automatic gunfire rattled out from leafy areas in nearby fields.

Fleeing the fighting, families came through the barbed wire checkpoint in small groups, taking with them only as much as they could carry.

“We took only what was most necessary. We are going. We don’t even know where. We will head to Russia though because it’s clear we need to leave Ukraine. I don’t see anything good left here,” Andrei Bander told Reuters. “In the past few days, from 5:30 in the morning until about 1:00 p.m., we have been sitting in the basement. We didn’t have time to have lunch or wash or anything.”

To make matters worse, the water in Sloviansk was turned off Tuesday due to damage to a pipeline. No one can access the pipeline to fix it due to the constant fighting.

Highways are blocked, and roads are empty around Sloviansk. One man told Reuters he wanted to get back to his wife and children, but the Ukrainian army was not allowing anyone past the checkpoint.

There are conflicting casualty reports from Kiev and the pro-Russians. The Ukrainian government said over 300 separatists have been killed, but Sloviansk’s self-proclaimed mayor said only ten. No one can confirm either account. CNN’s Tim Lister told the network it would be hard to confirm a death toll because of the ongoing fighting. 

Even though the exact death toll cannot be confirmed, the damage and violence in the area can be established. From CNN:

Video emerged Wednesday of damage to a hospital in Krasny Liman after it was hit by five rockets. The facility, which serves mainly railway workers, was hit Tuesday, according to Vladimir Seliyvanov, with Dontesk Railways. Four people, including a surgeon, were wounded in the attack, he added.

The images showed the impact of several detonations and many broken windows at the hospital.

Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov visited the east and inspected equipment.