Displaced Ukrainians pack trains to western border

Displaced Ukrainians pack trains to western border

The central Ukrainian city of Dnipro has so far been spared the worst of the war's violence, but displaced people from further east have swamped the station
The central Ukrainian city of Dnipro has so far been spared the worst of the war's violence, but displaced people from further east have swamped the station

DNIPRO (UKRAINE) - Thousands of people queued for hours on Saturday in Dnipro, a city on the edge of eastern Ukraine, trying to catch a train to the country's west, as Russian forces bombard their cities.

It was the first time crowds of this size have been seen trying to leave Dnipro, where official channels say the situation remains under control.

Local residents said they did not want to wait for Dnipro to become "the next Kharkiv" -– the city in the northeast of Ukraine by the Russian border that has been under sustained attack.

As well as Dnipro residents, transit passengers from Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia were hoping to board trains but, with scant information and huge demand some said they had already been waiting several days.

Men of military age between 18 and 60 cannot leave Ukraine due to mobilisation orders, but many came to say farewell to their wives, mothers and children as they departed.

Families faced their last moments together, unsure of when they would be together again, sharing flasks of hot tea in sub-zero temperatures as powdery snow fell.

"We're sending our women and children to Lviv and perhaps further and we are staying here. We try to stay positive but it's a horrible situation," said Andrey Kyrychenko, 40, a builder from Kharkiv.

Staff at the station said they had no information on when trains would come or what their destination would be, although many of those waiting believed they were travelling to Lviv.

A medical volunteer said that no one knew what was happening or where the trains were going.

"It could be Lviv, it could be Uzhhorod on the Slovakian border. We only know that they will go west," the volunteer said.

"I don't care where my family end up as long as it's away from Kharkiv," said Nikola Kyrychenkoi, 44, a driver.

He said he would return to Kharkiv once his family were on the train, as his elderly parents were still there because they were unable to leave.

"Everywhere in Kharkiv there were unexploded rockets," he said. "We spent almost one week in the basement and I thought it would have to end eventually, but the attacks kept coming."

The city council said in a statement posted on Telegram that they would install a special fence at the station to protect the masses of people trying to leave the city.

Mayor Boris Filatov appealed to men saying goodbye to relatives to stay away from platforms.

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