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Man Who Moved 200 People From Ukrainian Port City By Van Beaten -By ASC


Mykhailo Puryshev poses for a selfie as he evacuates people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine

KYIV:

As Russian troops tightened their siege against Mariupol and missiles went down, Mykhailo Puryshev drove to the city six times last month to evacuate its citizens, somehow surviving even as his red van was destroyed.

The 36 -year -old Ukrainian, who once operated a nightclub in the city, said he evacuated more than 200 people on his six perilous journeys and others began to join him in convoys to his hometown.

Russia last week claimed control of the ruins of the strategic port city, subject to some of the most intense attacks in the war, though hundreds of Ukrainian troops are still left there sheltering in the catacombs of a huge steel work. Ukraine says about 100,000 civilians are stranded in the city.

Privately organized trips like Puryshev’s have become a lifeline for starving civilians as repeated attempts to establish humanitarian corridors have failed.

“When I first went (on March 8), the city was like a plume of smoke, like a bonfire. The last time I went it was just ashes with black charcoal of buildings …” Puryshev said.

Russia denies targeting civilians in so -called special operations to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascism. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegations are baseless and the war was an act of unprovoked aggression.

Puryshev published an online video of his trip offering a rare view of the city. Mobile doesn’t work there and information is lacking.

His bus, which was bought by his friend primarily for evacuation, windshields, three side windows and a side door were destroyed in the attack, he said. “Alhamdulillah there is no one inside.”

He repaired the van between trips.

“The bus was hit by gunshots, assaults, mortars, gunshots. To be honest, there were so many signs of war on it.”

The drive through the Russian-occupied territory took eight hours to Mariupol, past checkpoints and traversing mud swamps and occasional corpses, while always being terrified of landmines, he said.

Inside the city, he would try not to see corpses scattered on the ground or in the remains of charred vehicles, fearing he might see children dead and damaged, he said.

People were buried on the street near shopping malls, nightclubs and even in the yard of a kindergarten, he said. Some of the corpses were rolled up on carpets and left on benches.

He ordered the old nightclub staff to provide a bomb shelter in the basement. It was held for about 200 people including senior citizens and pregnant women. Initially intending to rescue the nightclub staff, he found himself also rescuing those hiding there.

“The scariest moment was when it was going to be silent. One time, it was silent for eight hours. We thought: that’s it, it’s over. When it starts again, it’s so awful that the kids wet themselves.”

They have scavengers or “scavengers” who go out to find food and clean clothes or tights for children who can’t wash dirty pants and underwear. The shelter children recognized him as Misha’s uncle and he would hand out candy, he said.

She recalls a widow asking her to remove the wedding ring of her husband who had died as a result of an airstrike. He said he found himself unable to do so.

He said he finally had to leave his trip on March 28 when a separatist soldier told him not to return or he would be locked up – or worse.

Puryshev said that God had taken care of him.

“The only injury I suffered was a piece of glass on my side. But my coat saved me and I just got scratched. God protect me of course. My bus took care of me.”

He had plans for the vehicle after the war.

“We will turn it into a monument when we return to Mariupol.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by AGRASMARTCITY staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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