One moment they were standing on the platform of the Kramatorsk train station, hundreds of them, heeding the pleas of Ukrainian officials to flee a feared Russian attack. The next moment, death rained from the sky.
At least 50 people were killed and many more injured in a rocket attack Friday morning that turned the Kramatorsk platform into another atrocity in the six-week-old war. Ukraine blamed Russia, which denied any responsibility.
Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, was a key departure point this week for thousands trying to leave for safer points west. Large groups of people gathered at the station on Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear how many rockets were hit. But several parked cars were also hit, catching fire and turning into charred hulls.
The waiting area turned into a death zone, with bodies and belongings scattered around. “There are just kids!” a woman cried.
Ukrainian officials had warned for days that Russian forces, after withdrawing from the north, were regrouping for a major advance to the east. The Ukrainian railway service said after the attack on Kramatorsk that the evacuations would take place from nearby Sloviansk.
Ukrainian soldiers helped clear bodies from the platform.
Ukrainian police inspected the remains of a large rocket bearing the words “for our children” in Russian next to the train station. Russia accused Ukrainian troops of carrying out the attack as an anti-Russian provocation.
Shock and sadness after the attack.
An unkempt victim on the platform.