KIEV – Hours after intermittent explosions rang out in the Ukrainian capital, a siren went off in the central part of Kiev around 7:20 am. At 7:21 am, the mayor’s office issued a statement asking civilians to seek asylum immediately.
In a hotel in a crowded area, the management announced that all guests would go to a temporary shelter in the basement.
Guests and staff made their way downstairs and were waiting for further instructions. Some employees continued to run with their relatives.
Concern is mounting in Kiev as Russian forces appear to be advancing on the capital. Some civilian buildings were damaged in the morning.
Alyona Tkachenko, 36, who works in the kitchen at the hotel, fled with her family from the other side of the Dnieper River, after a building near their home was badly damaged in the early hours of the morning.
They lived on the left bank of the river in the east of Kiev. “We heard the explosion and went to the bathroom and lay on the floor and covered our heads with pillows,” Tkachenko said. “Once the metro started working again, we came here.”
Her parents, Valentina and Serhi Kharin, aged 54 and 58, and her two daughters, Anastasia, 11, and Sabina, 3, were among those who fled with her.
“We immediately put the TV on and realized it was the building next door to us,” Sarhi said.
They chose the bathroom as an immediate shelter as it had no windows in case of further explosions.
When they made the decision to move at 7 am, the metro train closest to them was completely filled with civilians trying to escape and others who had slept there all night.
“It’s such a shame we didn’t get here yesterday, so we didn’t have to go through this,” Valentina said of the hotel, tears streaming down her face.
The son of Valentina, Serhi and Alina’s husband remained at home, unarmed. “We feel safe now but we are worried about him [them] “I know what war really means,” said Sirhi, who served in Afghanistan from 1982 to 1984.
As the family recounted their ordeal, another emergency alarm went off.