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"A minute from hope to sentence". The consequences of the missile attack on Kramatorsk station


Main photo: The engine of a Tochka-U missile with the inscription "For Children" that hit the Kramatorsk railway station. April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatoliy Stepanov


Warning: The material contains sensitive information, and the photos show scenes of cruelty that may shock you.


On the morning of 8 April 2022, the Russian Federation hit the railway station of Kramatorsk with a Tochka-U ballistic missile. Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war, the railway station in the city has been the largest point for evacuating people from the war zone.


On the night of April 5, 2022, Russian troops carried out an air raid on an overpass near the Barvinkove station in the Izium district of Kharkiv region. The railroad exit from the cities of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Lyman was blocked. Three evacuation trains in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk were blocked and passengers were accommodated at the Kramatorsk station. Hundreds of people were at the station at the time of the attack. The attack killed 61 people and injured 121.


Today, the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers is publishing photos and memories of Anatoliy Stepanov about the aftermath of the missile attack on the Kramatorsk station. At the author's request, we are publishing the text in the author's original version.


"I was leaving my apartment to go to Rubizhne to visit the National Guard when a distant explosion came from the street, followed by a frequent rattling sound. Bang, bang, bang - as if dozens of basketballs were bouncing across the gym floor... From the eighth-floor balcony, I could clearly see clouds of smoke rising in the old town. The thought flashed through my mind that it had landed near the train station, but I didn't want to believe it. For several days now, evacuation trains had been leaving the station, and it was always crowded. The siren quickly prompted us to move. On the way to the station, it became obvious that something terrible had happened. Ambulances and military evacuation buses were coming from all over Kramatorsk, overtaking each other, toward the station.

A human body next to a train at the Kramatorsk station. April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatoliy Stepanov


Closer to the station, there was no doubt. People were running towards the train with their families. On the station square, firefighters were extinguishing burning cars, and the first wounded were being laid out near the entrance to the platform. It seemed that the entire medical staff of the city had gathered here. Military medics and soldiers were running to the station. A small area near the gate was quickly filled with the wounded. People were moaning, some were fainting in front of them, and blood was trickling from the girl's broken legs and collecting in puddles on the asphalt. Nearby, an elderly woman with bloody lips was being loaded into an ambulance. A military medic was shouting at the shocked policemen. There were screams all around. I was trying to film it all... I was just making mechanical actions. I was lifting the camera in a haze, pressing it, putting it down, lifting it again, pressing it... There were no more living people on the platform. Only scattered things smeared with blood, suitcases, children's toys. A smeared bloodstain caught my eye, as if someone had drawn a giant brush across the asphalt. Rescuers were carrying bodies on stretchers across the tracks. A boy of about ten years old on a bench... More than a year and a half has passed since that day, but I remember him all the time. His face... His chin, his lips, and then just a light cloth instead of his face... He probably felt nothing, no pain, no fright. The iron instantly and inexorably ended his little life.

Soldiers load an elderly woman into an ambulance. April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatoliy Stepanov


Injured and dead after a Tochka-U missile with a cluster charge struck the Kramatorsk train station. April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatoliy Stepanov


"Pulse, there's a pulse!" - a policeman leans over an elderly woman. His head is tilted back, his skin is waxy... Two soldiers are trying to help him. "That's it!" - the policeman says briefly, as if exhaling. Everyone gets up and walks away from her. A minute. A minute from hope to sentence.

"A minute. A minute from hope to sentence". April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatolii Stepanov


A woman stands next to the dead bodies and dials her husband's phone number. It is clear that a shell exploded in this place and people were horribly injured. She wants to make sure that it is his body, maybe the phone will ring somewhere in his pocket... She had only stepped away for a few minutes and this happened... A small toy terrier is trembling on a bench under the fence. The fragment pierced the dog's upper jaw. Frightened eyes, bloody fur. The body of the owner is mutilated beyond recognition. Some girl takes the dog away. A young woman is being led past the bodies, hysterical.

A wounded dog next to the body of its owner. April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatoliy Stepanov


Rescuers cover the bodies with tarpaulin. April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatoliy Stepanov


The police have already recovered from the shock and journalists are being escorted off the platforms. I go to the square in front of the station. In the flowerbed near the fir trees, the engine from the Tochka U rocket has buried itself in the ground. The inscription in large white letters in Russian "FOR CHILDREN" on its remains catches my eye. Everyone is slowly recovering. Bodies, many bodies, covered with tarpaulins, are lying near the station. People who had gathered to evacuate have now scattered into the surrounding streets and yards. On the street leading to the station, I see a young couple with a child on a bench. They are sitting hugging each other with blank stares. They just went to eat..."

A young couple with a child on a bench near the site of the tragedy. April 8, 2022. Photo by Anatoliy Stepanov

 

Anatoliy Stepanov is a Ukrainian photojournalist who has been documenting the war in Ukraine since 2014.

In 2004, he completed a course at the Victor Marushchenko School. Since then, he has worked in professional photography as a freelancer and staff photographer. He has collaborated with AP; he has been published in magazines: National Geographic, Spiegel, Stern, Time and others.


He was taking pictures of Euromaidan. On December 1, 2013, during the storming of Bankova Street, Berkut officers beat Anatoliy: they smashed his head, broke his arm, and smashed his equipment[1]..


In 2014, he started photographing the war in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. He is the author of the photo project "Independent" (Chicago, USA), one of the cameramen of the film "My War. Two Lives of Vasyl Slipak" (2017).


Participant of collective and personal photo exhibitions in Ukraine, Germany, France, and the USA.


Social networks of the photographer:


As a reminder, the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers has launched a series of materials dedicated to the key events of the Russian war against Ukraine, where it publishes memoirs and photographs of Ukrainian documentary photographers.


The project is being implemented thanks to the support of ЗМІN.

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