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Mariupol evacuee recounts heart-stopping terror in the bunkers of Azovstal

World May 02, 2022 09:06AM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. Azovstal steel plant employee Natalia Usmanova, 37, who was evacuated from Mariupol, reacts upon arrival at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine May 1, 2022. REUTERS/Ale 2/3

BEZIMENNE, Ukraine (Reuters) - Cowering in the labyrinth of Soviet-era bunkers far beneath the vast Azovstal steel works, Natalia Usmanova felt her heart would stop she was so terrified as Russian bombs rained down on Mariupol, sprinkling her with concrete dust.

Usmanova, 37, spoke to Reuters on Sunday after being evacuated from the plant, a sprawling complex founded under Josef Stalin and designed with a subterranean network of bunkers and tunnels to withstand attack.

"I feared that the bunker would not withstand it - I had terrible fear," Usmanova said, describing the time sheltering underground.

"When the bunker started to shake, I was hysterical, my husband can vouch for that: I was so worried the bunker would cave in."

"We didn't see the sun for so long," she said, speaking in the village of Bezimenne in an area of Donetsk under the control of Russia-backed separatists around 30 km (20 miles) east of Mariupol.

She recalled the lack of oxygen in the shelters and the fear that had gripped the lives of people hunkered down there.

Usmanova was among dozens of civilians evacuated from the plant in Mariupol, a southern port city that has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks and left a wasteland.

Usmanova said she joked with her husband on the bus ride out, in a convoy agreed by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), that they would no longer have to go to the lavatory with a torch.

"You just can't imagine what we have been through - the terror," Usmanova said. "I lived there, worked there all my life, but what we saw there was just terrible."

Mariupol evacuee recounts heart-stopping terror in the bunkers of Azovstal
 

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Comments (3)
Rolf Neuer
Rolf Neuer May 01, 2022 7:58PM ET
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Send more pharmaceuticals and psychotherapists. PTSD is a son of a ______.
Siniša Gulić
Siniša Gulić May 01, 2022 4:43PM ET
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where are the people and chidrens from Mariapolje ??? Rusian extremists bring the people in Rusia. And nobody know nothing !? where are the refuges. and in steal factori are tausends civilians !!!! children's . whos this putins sarcastik joke ?? leth aut 20 persones !! and after 48 h sheling fighting , maybe putin leth 20 persones mor aut. BELIVE ME!!! WHAT WILL PUTIN DO AFTER OLL CIVILIANS COMES AUT FROM FACTORI. PUTIN WILL POISEN IT OL SHELTHERS AND CATAKOMBS UNDER EARTH .
jason xx
jason xx May 01, 2022 2:37PM ET
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Are they being allowed to go to Ukrainian controlled territory?
 
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