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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

“Everything Was Blown Away” — In Dnipro, Voices Of The Survivors

A Ukrainian reporter on the scene of one of the worst attacks on civilians since Russia's invasion began.

Photo of rescuer workers taking away a corpse in Dnipro

The victims of Dnipro

Viktoria Roshchyna/Ukrainska Pravda
Victoria Roshchyna

DNIPRO — I met Oleg in one of the hospitals in Dnipro. His body was covered with wounds and scratches.

Oleg was with his wife in their apartment in a high-rise building in this central Ukrainian city on what seemed like an ordinary weekend. Then a Russian missile hit — and they miraculously survived, among the 75 wounded. As of Monday morning, 40 of their neighbors are confirmed dead, and at least 35 still missing.

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Oleg tries to piece together the moment of the strike:

"There was a long explosion. Everything was blown away," he recalls. It is still difficult for him to speak and keep his eyes open for any extended time, because of burns and wounds from the glass.

"We could not leave the apartment by ourselves because the door collapsed. Rescuers got us through the window of the 4th floor. I am glad that I am alive and that my wife is fine. I thank our rescuers, medics, and the Armed Forces. I hope everything will be fine," Oleg says on Sunday, still apparently under shock.

Hell in front of my eyes

A doctor at the Dnipro hospital recalls the moments after the first reports came in: "Three people died here in the first hour after the attack; eight are in the intensive care unit," he says.

"Surgeons removed stones, pieces of concrete, and metal fragments from the wounds of the head, chest, abdomen, and limbs. We transfused more than 20 liters of blood."

I flew across the room, and that's it.

The head and hands of Natalia are scratched and bandaged. She too was in her apartment unit Saturday afternoon when the missile hit. Her injuries did not require she stayed in the hospital, and I met her as she waited in line to write a statement to the police about the Russian crime.

"I was standing in the kitchen. And at that moment - "bang," and everything just flew. I did not hear an explosion or anything. I just suddenly flew across the room, and that's it. Frames, glass - everything fell on me,” she recalled. “My hand was bleeding; my head was bleeding. I ran out, and everything was lying there - concrete, doors, partitions. I do not know how I got through with my dog. I live on the ninth floor. I ran out and shouted "Help!" to the rescuers."

While coming down from the ninth floor, Natalia heard people screaming and moaning.

"As long as I live, I will remember them,” she said. “Today I could not close my eyes for a single second... I'm lying here, and I see this hell in front of my eyes! Damn those creatures. I feel nothing but hatred and pain."

Photo of Searching through the rubble of the Dnipro apartment

Searching through the rubble of the Dnipro apartment

Viktoria Roshchyna/Ukrainska Pravda

Everything collapsed

Yulia lived on the second floor. "When the doors, windows, clouds of smoke were flying... What did we do? Shock, and then we started running out - barefoot, naked," she recalled.

"When we ran out, everything collapsed. We barely managed to break through."

Also waiting to give a statement to authorities, Yulia admits that she still does not understand what happened. "In one moment, we lost everything..." - she sighs bitterly.

Another woman survived all night under the rubble. Rescuers stopped several times to locate the sound of her voice and coordinate actions. She was taken to the hospital immediately.

"She can make sounds," the doctors explained. “But she does not hear us.”

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Disney's new movie "Wish" is being touted as a new children's blockbuster to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary. But some Christians may see the portrayal of the villain as God-like and turning wishes into prayers as the ultimate denial of the true message of Christmas.

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For the Christmas holiday season?

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Christians have always had a love-hate relationship with Disney since I can remember. Growing up in the Christian culture of the 1990s and early 2000s, all the Christian parents I knew loved watching Disney movies with their kids – but have always had an uncomfortable relationship with some of its messages. It was due to the constant Disney tropes of “follow your heart philosophy” and “junior knows best” disdain for authority figures like parents that angered so many. Even so, most Christians felt the benefits had outweighed the costs.

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