PAY ATTENTION: Сheck out news that is picked exactly for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!
It was a rare outing for Lioudmila Kharchenko when she left her apartment on Saturday morning in the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut in search of bread.
But when she returned an hour later, she discovered her ruined home and a missile head at the foot of her velvet sofa in the living room.
The 63-year-old rarely goes outside after finding herself in the middle of a terrifying battle tearing the small town apart. But on that day she had prepared for the trip with a bit of lipstick and brought her shopping bags.
The daily confrontation between Ukrainian and Russian troops and artillery fire since the start of August is one of the longest active battles over a Ukrainian city or town since the start of the war.
PAY ATTENTION: Follow us on Instagram - get the most important news directly in your favourite app!
"I received a call telling me there was distribution of bread. I went there," the retired woman says.
After arriving, her neighbours told Kharchenko that her building had been hit.
"I ran to the house, hoping that they were wrong. But I went and I saw the disaster," she adds, aware that the trip had saved her life.
Next to a small wooden chest of drawers miraculously intact in her hallway, including a violet flower still in the vase, Kharchenko puts her hand to her mouth and chokes back a sob.
Firefighters arrived 20 minutes after the missile hit, at about 11:00 am, and extinguished the fire that blackened the small two-room apartment on the ninth and top floor of the building in northern Bakhmut.
'Paid in blood'
Once the smoke disappears through the hole in the building left by the missile, there is a clear view of the blue sky.
The Smerch missile head, more than a metre and a half long and camouflage green, rests on the burnt carpet.
Another cylinder of the same size, which could be from a multiple rocket launcher, is standing upright at the other end of the living room.
A firefighter sprays water on the weapon before carrying the metal tube at arm's length.
The explosion also knocked the retiree's frames off the walls. One picture of Kharchenko and her husband in a gold frame fell and landed just above the missile.
Kharchenko takes a few steps into the room, and raises her eyes, clouded with tears, towards the hole in the ceiling and where the roof is in shreds.
"This apartment was paid for with blood and sweat," Kharchenko says, before composing herself and gathering some of her belongings to take with her to stay at her son's home in another area of Bakhmut.
"Thank you very much for putting out the fire, don't bother with the rubble, I will do it myself," she says.
According to local officials, nearly half of Bakhmut's 70,000 residents refused to leave, despite the daily battles and artillery fire.
New feature: Сheck out news that is picked for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!