Photos: Ukrainian firefighters on risky mission to save lives
Thick grey smoke pours from the roof as the firefighters arrive at a brick house, one of several homes hit by Russian shelling in a residential neighbourhood in Kostiantynivka.
The city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province has come under intense bombardment in recent days amid a Russian push to capture nearby Bakhmut, where Ukrainian forces have held on throughout a grinding battle that started last summer.
Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces are attacking Kostiantynivka with cluster bombs and missiles.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk province, said one person was killed and at least three civilians wounded after several rounds of Russian shelling on Saturday.
An attack on the city a day earlier injured eight people and destroyed or damaged more than a dozen houses. The barrages have overwhelmed local firefighters, who take great risks putting out fires in buildings and cars even as the shelling continues.
The air is heavy with smoke and the sharp smell of explosives as the firefighters unfold a hose. They smash the windows of the brick house and spray water into it.
There are no people inside, but a dog is trapped in a cage in the back yard. A firefighter opens the gate and the dog runs out amid the smoke and debris.
The unit’s chief calls to his team to stop what they’re doing.
“Attention everyone. Air raid!” he shouts.
The firefighters take cover behind the house, they sit quietly as explosions go off in the near distance.
It’s unclear whether the blasts are a new wave of attacks or secondary explosions caused by fires in the area. Either way, they are getting closer. The team leader orders everyone back to the truck.
As they run down the dirt road, another loud explosion rocks the neighbourhood, sending a cloud of smoke towards the sky not far from the house they just left.