«The icon saved me.» Report from the apartment block damaged on February 25 last year.

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On the morning of February 25, 2022, the air defense shot down an enemy drone over Kyiv. The debris fell into the residential area of Pozniaky, located on the left bank of the city. As a result, it damaged high-rise buildings №7 and 7A on Koshytsia Street, causing a fire to break out.

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Our journalist visited the residents of these apartment blocks almost a year after the disaster. 

In the 10-story building at 7 Koshytsia Street, where windows were broken, walls burned and slabs crushed just months ago, now there’s a coloured facade. 

The first floors, which were most affected by the explosion, are reinforced with metal structures. The windows are new, and no trace is left of the crater that used to be there.

Another 16-story building stands next to this one, it has 8 and 9 floors impacted most severely. Today, only a few broken air conditioners, the absence of glass on several balconies and damaged bricks on the walls remind us of the fire.

Viktor Skuibida, the head of the condominium on 7A Oleksandra Koshytsia street, shows the foundation, which moved from the explosion. There are stairs near it that lead to the basement. It was there that people hid after the disaster.

«The main hit was here,» – Viktor points to the lower part of the nearby 10-story building. – The first four floors are simply gone. In our block, however, the 9th was the most affected. There was an unknown object on the balcony that caught fire. A fire started, spreading to the 10th and 11th floors.»

Victor lives on the third floor of this building. It did not catch fire, only the glass in the windows was broken.

«At 4:20 am, an explosion rang out. I was inside, my daughter was sleeping in the room where the windows were broken. She completely covered herself with a blanket and was not injured. I can’t even imagine how she got so lucky,» – the man recalls.

Viktor and his family ran outside. Other neighbours were already going down there. The rescuers arrived in a matter of minutes: they extinguished the fire and started freeing those residents who could not get out from the apartments on their own.

«On the same day, the dismantling of rubbles began in the building,» Victor Skuibida continues. – They brought us two rolls of film to somehow cover the windows. After that, everything took a little longer.»

The city authorities ordered the head of the condominium to calculate the cost of the damage. The total sum amounted three million hryvnias. 

At the end of March, Kyiv’s Mayor Vitaliy Klychko announced that the capital was allocating almost 600 million (then, about $20 million) hryvnias from its budget for the reconstruction and overhaul of residential buildings and social infrastructure facilities that had been damaged as a result of military operations. The government provided another 200 million hryvnias.

Viktor installed the windows on his balcony himself, he didn’t hurry to replace the rest. Other residents of the house did the same.

«We couldn’t wait long. In the summer, it is impossible to breathe with a film on the window, – the man explains. – At the beginning of September, craftsmen came, took measurements of the windows, and started installing them already at the end of October».

Pensioner Maria started looking for money for repairs too. She works as a concierge in a 16-story building and also lives here: «When the explosion occurred, all the glass from the windows flew away, along with the wooden frames. My legs were covered with blanket, and all the glass was on top of it. Luckily, there is an icon opposite the bed – it was she who saved me».

Mrs Maria lived in a pantry for two months. Her son helped to cover the windows with film, but it was still cool in the apartments. «I put together two pensions, caring residents helped, and I installed three windows, one glazed balcony, and a door to it. All this was worth 50 thousand hryvnias.»

Mrs Maria did not have enough funds for the second balcony. However, in September, the woman had them installed at the expense of the city. Electricity, water supply, and heating were functioning in the apartment block after the explosion, but in the building next to it, all communications were immediately blocked. Debris from the drone damaged a gas pipe, and residents did not know what would happen further.

«People who had nowhere to go asked to connect at least some communications. Gas has already been supplied in the middle of summer, water and electricity followed it,» – says Yaroslav Korobka, a resident of an apartment on the 10th floor.

A director, he is now shooting a film about the residents of the block on Koshytsia street. The man says he wants people not to forget about the atrocities committed by Russia…

It’s unknown how long the 10-story building that survived the powerful explosion will stand. Cracks appeared in the walls. Currently, people who extinguished the flames in their homes are finishing repairs, hoping for the best.

Anastasia Koval, translated by Vitalii Holich

Photo: Roman Popov, personal archive of Yaroslav Korobka

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