News"We were about to toast and everything exploded like a volcano"

    “We were about to toast and everything exploded like a volcano”

    The prestigious Colombian novelist Hector Abad attends Clarion while the train that transports him moves away from the cital kyiv. Only 24 hours ago he managed to survive a missile attack on the city of Kramatorsk. In his voice you can still perceive the impact of the nearby death rattles, the pain for the drama he experienced and the sadness for the chance that one of the women who accompanied him, an incisive local writer named Victoria Amelina, may not have survived the enemy fire. that reached them. For certain, Abad does not know if Victoria is alive, nor will he have any way of knowing immediately. It is broken.

    On Tuesday night they had ordered some pizzas and made jokes about how to get a bottle of beer in the middle of the war, something that is prohibited due to the dry law that prevails in the combat zones of eastern Ukraine. They had a table in the outdoor patio of that pizzeria packed with people, mostly military and journalists and a few families. Victoria had proposed to Abad, Sergio Jaramillo (former peace commissioner) and the war correspondent Catalina Gomez that they go to that place. Victoria ordered a non-alcoholic beer. They bowed to toast.

    In a second the detente can turn to smoke and rubble. Suddenly, everything can be clouded and turned into daze and confusion. Something like this manages to describe Abad in a conversation with Clarion. That missile that destroyed everything killed 11 people, including two 14-year-old twin sisters. It hit the center of the living room ceiling. “If we were inside, without a doubt we would have died,” says Abad.

    Another wounded. Sergio Jaramillo, after the attack. EFE/Catalina Gomez Angel

    Abad and Jaramillo had launched the Aguanta Ukraine initiative at the Hay Festival in Cartagena in February. A platform thought from solidarity. The Colombian war correspondent Catalina Gomez had joined them. From hold on Ukraine They proposed that the civilian population of Latin America have a voice in the conflict to oppose the invasion of Russia, that they not ignore the conflict and accompany the Ukrainian people with their signatures. “It is a campaign in favor of common sense, to call things by their name. Invading the neighbor is what it is: an invasion, attacking civilians in their residences with missiles is what it is: killing civilians. It does not need any further comment and cannot be ignored”, they had assured during the launch of the campaign. It was time to present Hold Ukraine on the ground.

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    Abbot tells Clarin: “For the campaign we came to the kyiv book fair. It is a campaign of Latinos in favor of Ukraine. Victoria Amelina joined the Fair, she was enthusiastic, she wanted to tell us about her investigation into Putin’s war crimes. After the book fair, since I have a book translated into Ukrainian, I participated in a copy signing. We were calm, with that tense calm that is lived here. And then we decided to go further East to see the more direct effects of the war”.

    Kramatorsk.  The remains of the place hit by Putin's fire.  EFE

    Kramatorsk. The remains of the place hit by Putin’s fire. EFE

    “Victoria was very hpy with the campaign – recalls Abad – and she said she was joining us. The five of us left: Sergio, Victoria, Catalina, Dima the fixer and the driver heading to Kharkiv. We were in many places: hospitals, destroyed sites, talking to people. Victoria knew everything very well. She had been to Kramatorsk several times and she suggested that place. We arrived quarter past seven. Curfew was at nine. The place was very full of civilians, children, young people, military girlfriends. At 7.28 my watch stops. An explosion came like I never felt in my life, not from the air, but like from under the ground.”

    Victoria leans in to toast. It is the last thing Abad sees before the impact. Then the jolt does not lift him up, but knocks him to the ground. He is stunned. He opens his eyes. Victoria is sitting, motionless in her chair, “pale as a wax candle,” Abad tells Clarin. With head slightly bowed. “Something splashed black all over my clothes and I had black spots everywhere. It looked like blood. But he was not hurt. Nothing hurt me. They had told me that a bullet does not hurt, that one is wounded but does not feel pain. Victoria was sitting, lost, but sitting, as if gone. She didn’t bend. She was sitting. Her head bowed. She was pale, like placid. Sergio and Catalina spoke to her but she didn’t react at all”, she says.

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    The writer continues: “I felt the buzz. Everything was like in slow motion. I start to hear voices. It was all very weird. They were scary voices. Or relief. Or I don’t know what. In those moments someone arrives, a paramedic and grabs me by the arm and takes me out of the place. That he would move me away because sometimes the Russians throw two missiles as if to finish off. I sat on some stairs like on a sidewalk, close by. The fixer’s van had all the windows smashed. Alarms sounded but this time the attack warning sirens had not sounded.

    Abad makes sense in a different place. He now he is in Kramatorsk hospital 3. They see the fear He is with Sergio, who managed to locate him minutes before by phone. They are together. They are afraid. They are looking for Victoria. Catherine follows them. They see the horror: “Ambulances, stretchers, bloodied people, we saw the war, still dazed, trying to find Victoria. The metal blankets enveloping living or perhs dead people: I cannot describe the horror in any other way. I don’t know if I can be accurate. We leave there without knowing what hpened to Victoria, whether she managed to survive or not.

    Abbot, who had just recovered from open heart surgery, feels like he has been reborn. He doesn’t say it like that, but he is crossed by the mixture of relief and pain. He was touring the Ukraine with an unbeatable feeling of life, drive and conviction. They were entering, gaining confidence, in a critical area, the gateway to the Donestk region.

    Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina suffered a severe skull fracture during the missile attack in Kramatorsk.  EFE/Hector Abad

    Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina suffered a severe skull fracture during the missile attack in Kramatorsk. EFE/Hector Abad

    Until the beginning of the war in the city of Kramatosrtk about 250 thousand people lived. But most of the civilian population left. Today the city is teeming with Ukrainian soldiers. Soldiers resupplying. Soldiers who rest when they return from the battlefront.

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    There are five confectioneries or bars open. They are always full. From six in the morning until curfew time, at 8 at night. They are places, like all, frequented by combatants of different degrees. Journalists who come to the city from different points also meet there. Many from kyiv, many from Kharkiv, the two big cities that have recovered their strength even when the missiles continue to hit them.

    Many of the interviews carried out by the international press take place in these confectioneries. They are places of management. They are meeting points. Also relaxation. It is probable that for the Russians, any point of the city is desirable from the tactical point of view. The reading they make is that wherever a missile falls, it will end up killing soldiers. All of Kramatorstk is a target for the invading army. Abbot and company knew it, but in the war it goes on, one lives, somehow, as if death were to reach others and not one.

    “Everything has been very strange, very crazy,” says Abad. He works with the words but can’t find the right ones to describe what he experienced. The train runs from kyiv to Lviv. At times the signal is lost. But the talk with Clarin continues. “We live in amazement at barbarism. A missile, parently from a plane, falls where there are dozens and dozens of people talking and eating. It is death that is imposed. What we did not expect to hpen, hpened to us. I barely got any sleep, and with every kilometer away from the Russian-made hell in Donetsk, I feel safer,” he says.

    And he concludes: “This was a testimonial journey and, suddenly, it has become a tragic journey in which our colleague Victoria Amelina is between life and death. And we, sad and dismayed, return to where we can, to where we think we will be safe…”

    Source: Clarin

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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