Story #22. Escape from Mariupol

May 30, 2022
Mariupol. The story of Irina Gusak, whose family survived the horrors of the war and was able to escape from the city.

“We were not preparing for war, is it possible to prepare for that? We had food at home, we had a strong house, there was a reliable basement, a well. Two days before the war we bought a one-month-old shepherd puppy, we also had a dog Nicka and a cat Tymko,” Irina writes.

At first, they didn't even go down to the basement. Reports from friends about leaving the city were surprising and a little outrageous. “Let the enemies flee, we are at home.” But from March 1, the shelling became more intense, and light and water disappeared.

The horror began on March 3, they hardly slept, they sat in the basement, the shelling was intense and powerful, and the walls shook. All she thought about was that if it was time to die, let it happen quickly, without suffering.

Their Marik (puppy) learned to sleep and eat under fire in the basement. The family was tired of the shelling, it was almost not scary, it was rather indifferent. So they were more at home because it was cold in the basement, and they got sick.

One night Iryna said she couldn't go to the basement anymore, She wanted to warm up and get some sleep. They were on a mattress on the floor in the safest room. Suddenly a shell flew at us. The house shuddered, there was smoke everywhere, a taste of blood and cement in her throat.

Their house was destroyed: the explosion knocked out windows and doors, and part of the roof was missing. They couldn't find their cat. They hastily packed some things and decided to go. The green corridor was announced on the radio for the first time.

It was scary to leave. There were broken wires on the roads, burnt trams and cars, they saw a dead dog whose head was almost cut off by a fragment. She cried. They rode on glass and iron. Iryna’s husband shouted that if they punctured the wheels, they would all die.

They circled the yards of burning high-rise buildings, shells were scattered along the street, and explosions were everywhere. A human corpse burned down on the sidewalk, and they were in a panic. Suddenly they saw a Russian tank.

The barrel of the tank with the Z mark was aimed at the face of Iryna’s daughter, her husband and her. They were a great target. She still doesn't understand why they didn't shoot. Her husband turned the steering wheel and drove into an alley. They cried, prayed and finally escaped!

“Mariupol is destroyed. This city is a ghost. My biggest pain is that I couldn't get my mother out of that hell. And so I walk the streets of a peaceful quiet city in the west of the country, and in front of my eyes is my mother in the middle of a shattered yard in Mariupol,” she explains.