Ukrainians Take First Steps Toward Reconstruction in Towns Near Kyiv | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ukrainians Take First Steps Toward Reconstruction in Towns Near Kyiv

Bucha, Borodianka, Irpin, and other towns near the Russian invasion of the capital city of Khiu, where air raid alarms are still sounding

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A burned-out apartment building in Borodianka, where a total of 41 bodies were found by April 16.

White dust was flying in the air. As heavy machinery roared and dug up the pile of debris, the arm of a man dressed in black emerged.

It was the body of a man. Surrounding the body, rescue workers wrapped it in a white bag and carried it to a truck parked nearby.

The site is Borodianka, a town about 50 km northwest of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, where airstrikes in early March tore apart a nine-story apartment building and left it charred to the ground. The search for victims trapped under the rubble on the basement floor has been ongoing since early April. Dima, 40, a member of the rescue team, told us, “We have been searching for victims here for about 10 days now.”

“The search has been going on here for about 10 days now,” said Dima, 40, a member of the rescue team. “We started from the upper floor of the apartment and finally made it to the basement. Today alone, we found 12 bodies.” Every time they dig up a body, I feel more and more anger and hatred toward the Russian military.

Near the site, men were anxiously awaiting the bodies of their wives and brothers, which had not yet been found.

In another wing of the apartment building, residents were taking the first steps toward recovery, hoping to regain their lost normal lives.

Mikola, 47, an IT technician, was repairing his room with his wife and mother. Mikola was spared because he had evacuated to Lviv in the western part of the country just before the bombing, but the impact of the explosion destroyed his front door, shattered his windows, and left his children’s room a mess with school supplies scattered about.

“We came here to repair the window section in preparation for a rainy day, and once we have worked on it for three days, we will return to Lviv. We’ll live here when peace comes.”

His wife, a bank employee, is on leave, but Mikola is able to work remotely, so he is able to make ends meet.

In the square in front of the apartment building, prosecutors were also seen pursuing war crimes committed by the Russian military. One of them said, “We are collecting testimonies from the residents. Photographs and videos by journalists are also subject to evidence,” he explained the situation.

In a small village about an hour’s drive south of Borodianka, landmine removal work is underway. The gates of houses lined up in a row are marked with yellow paint . The house of Vasil, 65, a pensioner living in the village, is marked with a “.“.

I was told that the demining team’s investigation had revealed that if there were no problems, the house would be marked with a “.”  is undetermined. For a month after the war broke out, I took shelter in a bunker with my wife, dog and cat.

During the interview, a dull thud sounded in the distance.

It was the sound of unexploded ordnance being disposed of.

In Bucha, known as the “Slaughterhouse City,” Russian tanks and armored vehicles were being dumped in a vast vacant lot. In Irpin, adjacent to Bucha, repair work on utility poles is underway.

The suburbs of Kyiv seemed to be gradually returning to normal. However, the sinking of the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the Moscow, on April 14, once again heightened tensions. In Kyiv, alarms sounded every day. In Lviv, seven civilians were killed on April 18 when a missile attacked a military facility and an auto body shop. The road to recovery is long and distant.

Bodies found under the rubble are carried into trucks. According to rescue workers, some of the bodies are severely damaged.
Mr. and Mrs. Vasil basking in the sun at dusk. The “.” in the upper right corner of the gate means “no problem” in the landmine survey.
“?” indicates that there is a possibility that landmines have been left behind in the house. Explosions could be heard during the interview.
A victim’s car abandoned in a vacant lot in Bucha, the slaughterhouse city. A sign reads, “Children,” but they were shot.
The village was taken over by the Russian army, and Vasil was confined to a nearby hut. She tearfully recounted the horror of her experience.

From the May 6-13, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Photographs and text Takehide Mizutani

    Nonfiction writer

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