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Grim photos show Ukrainians hiding from Russian bombs in Kiev metro

Heartbreaking footage showed Ukrainian families huddled underground wrapped in blankets and thick clothes on Wednesday in the Kiev metro, where as many as 15,000 people were believed to have been locked in to avoid the deadly Russian bombardment.

At Dorohozhychi station – just half a block from the TV tower that was attacked on Tuesday – dozens of families have been sleeping on its stone floor since the Russian invasion began on Thursday.

One family lives in a tent, while others simply spread out their books and food on sheets and towels.

The damp, cold station – which is steeped in the smell of cooking and the smell of sweat – was also the scene of an emotional reunion on Wednesday for the Badyleyvch family, who split following the missile strike on the town television antenna.

A woman reads as she takes refuge in the Dorohozhychi subway station.
Chris McGrath
A map shows the areas of Ukraine besieged by Russia.
A map shows the areas of Ukraine besieged by Russia.

Sergiy Badyleyvch, a wounded Ukrainian soldier with a broken leg, said he feared his wife and two young sons were killed in the attack.


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“Yesterday they came out and two minutes later there was an explosion,” he said after dropping his crutches to pick up his 5-year-old boy.

“I called my wife, I wanted to tell her to run home, but someone in the street was shouting at her to run to the shelter.”

A woman sits in a tent as people take shelter on March 2.
A woman sits in a tent as people take shelter on March 2.
Chris McGrath

The 42-year-old added: “I didn’t know if she was alive.”

Natalia Badyleyvch tried to steady her hands as she glanced at her husband, then looked at their children.

“Now the little one is afraid to go out. He says ‘Mom no, anything but that,’” she said.

A family huddles in the station.
A family huddles in the station.
Anadolu Agency

Nearby, Antonina Puziy, a 75-year-old retiree, was peeling potatoes and chopping carrots for soup.

She said she decided to hide underground with her grandchildren as soon as the Russian missile blasts went off before sunrise on Thursday.

“We live on the 12th floor. It’s very scary up there,” she said, pointing a potato peeler at the curved ceiling.

Citizens take shelter in a train on March 2.
Citizens take shelter in a train on March 2.
Chris McGrath

“My daughters bring food. And the neighbors bring down pastries for the little ones. Everyone is trying to help.

Kiev is the largest city in Ukraine, with a population of around 3 million.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, announced on Saturday that the city’s subways were no longer working and the system would be used as a bomb shelter.

A girl plays with her dog and cat in Dorohozhychi metro station.
A girl plays with her dog and cat in Dorohozhychi metro station.
Chris McGrath

A day earlier, a baby girl named Mia was born in a Kiev metro station as her mother sought refuge there from the Russian onslaught.

Hannah Hopko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, posted a photo of the child on Facebook, noting that she “was born tonight in a stressful environment – the bombing of Kyiv”.

The Kyiv Metro network of 52 stations and tunnels was built in the early 1960s when Ukraine was a Soviet republic, and it was designed to serve both as public transport and as potential protection against air raids.

A man boards a train at Dorohozhychi subway station.
Each station also has food, water, toilets and medicine.
Chris McGrath

Arsenalna station, named after the nearby Kiev Arsenal factory, is 100 meters underground, making it the deepest in the world, according to the Atlas Obscura website, which says it can take five minutes to go up or down its multiple escalators.

Each of Kyiv’s stations can easily accommodate 1,000 people, but those numbers could theoretically be doubled to accommodate a total of around 100,000 people, said Viktor Brahinsky, head of Kyiv’s metro.

Each station also has food, water, toilets and medicine, the Kyiv Independent tweeted Wednesday.

A couple hug at Dorohozhychi station.
A couple hug at Dorohozhychi station.
Anastasia Vlasova

Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have drawn comparisons between the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler’s failed attempt to conquer Europe during World War II.

This campaign included the infamous Nazi bombing of Britain, dubbed “The Blitz”, in which Londoners took refuge in that city’s underground.

With post wires