Residents of a two-story building in Kyiv were woken in their beds by a missile attack that gouged a crater less than 50 yards from their home early Thursday.
Hours later, they were retrieving their belongings and sweeping up broken glass in the Darnytsia neighborhood of the capital, along the Dnipro River. It was just one of many places damaged around the country after a barrage of Russian missiles that came the same day President Volodymyr Zelensky was set to meet with President Biden in Washington.
Several people in the building were injured in the impact, which hit close to a nearby railroad track. But it could have been even worse: a scrubby bank of ground a few feet high acted as a shield for the building as the blast sent masonry, corrugated iron and other debris flying. One chunk of brickwork crushed a car.
“It was an explosion, just an explosion,” Iryna said, as she picked through the wreckage inside the one-room apartment that she shared with her mother, Lyuda. “Everyone started running.”
A resident of another apartment block, a bit further away from the impact crater, Serhiy Chop, 56, who had been hit on the head by a window screen, said he had woken up to the sight of a fireball.
Ukraine’s antiaircraft defenses have proved effective over Kyiv in recent months, but it wasn’t clear if what hit was a missile itself or debris from an interceptions. The authorities used a crane to retrieve parts of the missile that could help determine exactly what had fallen.
Iryna, who declined to give her last name out of concern for her security, said she had spent the previous weeks nursing her mother, who is ill. The two of them shared a room with two dogs, but in the chaos that followed the explosion, the dogs escaped.
Thinking they might have been spotted nearby, Iryna clambered out through her shattered ground-floor window in her robe and ran down the street. She cried out for her dogs to come back and begged rescue workers and cleanup crews to tell her whether they had seen them.
“They ran away,” she said. “They simply ran away.”.