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Molten metal and birds in the sky. The aftermath of the attack on Kremenchuk in the photos of Yevhenii Zavhorodnii

People near the site of a rocket attack in Kremenchuk. June 28, 2022. Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii


On June 27, 2022, Russian troops fired missiles at Kremenchuk, Poltava region. One of them hit the city's largest shopping center, Amstor. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, this is the largest tragedy in Poltava region in terms of the number of victims - 22 people were killed and more than a hundred were injured. Photographer Yevhen Zavhorodniy went to the scene and filmed the aftermath of the rocket attack on Kremenchuk.


A Russian missile strike kills 22 people. June 8, 2022. Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii


Scorched earth


All that remained of Kremenchuk's largest shopping center was scorched earth. Two signs still hung on the charred metal structures of the Amstor shopping center: Comfy and Rozetka. The plastic letters had melted from the heat and resembled children's plasticine crafts. Above them, a flock of frightened birds flew into the sky. The territory of the shopping center was fenced off with red and white tape, and rescuers were dismantling the rubble inch by inch. That day, 22 people died and more than a hundred were injured.


Rescuers had already extinguished the fire and were clearing the rubble. Utility workers were sweeping up the glass smashed out of the windows by the blast wave and boarding up the windows with wooden plates. June 28, 2022. Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii


Local residents and relatives of the victims at the site of the tragedy. June 8, 2022. Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii


On the day of the tragedy, photographer Yevhenii Zavhorodnii was in Lviv. He had come to attend a safety training for journalists working in wartime. "I was working in a coworking space on Rynok Square and saw the news about the Amstor shopping center," recalls Zavhorodnii. "I already had a ticket home, but I changed it and went to Kremenchuk." The photographer adds that he surprisingly took his camera with him and did not have to return to Kyiv to get it.


When Yevhen arrived in Kremenchuk, rescuers had already extinguished the fire and were clearing the rubble. Utility workers were sweeping up the glass that had been blown out of the windows and boarding up the windows with wooden plates, and electricians were repairing the power grid. Since the missile attack took place in the afternoon, there were a lot of people in Amstor. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there could have been up to a thousand visitors. Rescuers worked at the site for several days and found the remains of human bodies. It became possible to understand how many people they belonged to only after DNA testing.


The aftermath of a missile attack on the largest Amstor shopping center in Kremenchuk. June 28, 2022. Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii


Yevhenii Zavhorodnii photographed the work of rescuers and people who came to help or to find out about their loved ones. "They lent me a helmet and I was able to take pictures inside the building. The first thing that struck me visually was the key fobs on the keys to the storage rooms. They just flowed," the photographer recalls.


Victims in a shopping center in Kremenchuk. June 8, 2022. Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii


Yevhenii Zavhorodnii remembers the story of paramedic and volunteer Yurii Hudz, who came to rescue the wounded. "He said that the townspeople who were near the shopping center were wrapping wet T-shirts around their faces and going to pull people out. Suddenly, someone started shouting "Medic, medic!" and everyone ran to answer the call. However, it was just a hand under the rubble," says Zavhorodnii.

 

Photographer Yevhenii Zavhorodnii has been shooting for about 20 years for both Ukrainian media and foreign agencies. He began by documenting the events of the Orange Revolution in 2004. His photos have been published by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, Deutsche Welle and others. Prior to the full-scale invasion, he had been photographing the Ukrainian parliament for a couple of years. Since the beginning of the invasion, he has been documenting the consequences of Russian aggression. Yevhen's works have been exhibited at collective exhibitions in Ukraine and the EU.


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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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