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On Monday, Oksana Guida went to a mall in the central town of Kremenchuk in Ukraine to buy a computer. Minutes later, the same mall was engulfed in flames after being hit by a Russian missile attack.
Guida, a local political activist, returned to his car with his family, when the store no longer had what he needed.
Twelve minutes later, a Russian missile hit the shopping center, reportedly having 1,000 people inside. So far, 18 deaths have been confirmed, of which twelve have been injured and many more are missing.
Guida was about 160 meters from the blast, and sustained a head injury and damage to his hearing.
Through an interpreter, he said The Present that the mall was filled with young families, and primarily staffed by young women. He said he saw smoke after the attack, and then fire. People ran from the building, but others also ran back inside, to help.
He later learned that nine people at the computer store he had just visited had burned to death.
PAMINAW | City ‘shocked’ after the mall collapsed
The Present2:19People went to the store, and never came back
Kremenchuk has a population of about 220,000. Guida said many people were known to have been trapped or killed in the shopping center, and the city was panicked.
The attack took place as G7 leaders met in Germany, and issued a joint statement promising new sanctions on Russia, and to continue to support Ukraine “as long as necessary.”
Inna Sovsun, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, said it was a “good statement,” but she wanted to see efforts to prevent the four -month war from becoming a protracted conflict.
“To make it short, we need arm supplies not in the future, we need them now,” he said.
TAN-AWA | The Russian strike hit a mall in Ukraine
He welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s promise to send rocket systems earlier this month, but said Ukraine had been asking for air defense help from the very beginning.
“Oksana’s friends who were burned alive in that building, they would still be alive if our voices had been heard earlier,” he said.
Russia is targeting civilians, the MP said
Russia claimed its missile targeted a nearby storage of ammunition, igniting the fire that spread to the shopping mall. Those claims were denied by Ukrainian officials.
Sovsun said Russia was “specifically targeting civilians,” pointing to other attacks, including an April strike at a train station in Kramatorsk that left at least 52 people dead. .
“They know very well what they are doing and they should be punished for what they have done in Kremenchuk and other towns, all over Ukraine,” he said.
He wants G7 leaders to address Russia’s invasion “not by expressing their concern, not by saying they are extremely outraged by what has happened, but by actually increasing Ukraine’s arms supplies.”
Sovsun said he had recently brought his son back to Kyiv from western Ukraine, to get closer to him. He felt safe to do so, but quickly realized the effect the war had on him.
“I had to put him to bed last night and he said,‘ Mom, the war is getting closer here, am I safe here? ’” He said.
“That’s something I can’t forgive Putin and the Russians, because my son has experienced this fear. But I know we have to keep going and keep fighting,” he said.
Written by Padraig Moran, with files from the Associated Press. Produced by Joana Draghici.