Huge pile of missiles lays bare scale of Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine
A MISSILE mountain lays bare the scale of Russia’s murderous bombardment in Ukraine.
The evidence of slaughter is a 15ft-high pile of rockets, missiles and bombs collected from homes and gardens, dug out of the streets and children’s playgrounds.
The Sun spent two days with the hero bomb squad in Kharkiv, which has suffered the worst bombardment of any city outside Mariupol.
Brave bomb disposal experts have answered 3,200 calls — more than twice as many as the capital Kyiv and blitzed Mykolaiv.
Three of their comrades were killed and four seriously injured when a cluster bomb rocket exploded as they tried to move it.
The mountain of mangled munition includes indiscriminate Tornado, Smerch, Uragan and Grad rockets, as well as guided Iskander ballistic and Kalibr cruise missiles.
On a single morning Lt Col Ihor Ovcharuk’s four-strong team recovered:
- PART of a 25ft Tornado-S missile in Dr Kateryna Mehamud’s patio;
- REMNANTS of four Grad rockets that ripped walls and roof off Sergei Sereda’s home;
- PART of an unguided Uragan missile from a children’s playground;
- FOUR other Grads at three locations.
A pilot’s home in Kulynychi was hit by a barrage of Grads. One buried in the lawn exploded underground, creating a 6ft cave which the owners only found when a sinkhole appeared two weeks later.
In Saltivka district, where families have sheltered for months underground, a Grad was recovered from the loft of a scorched 15-storey block.
The unguided rockets, fired from truck-mounted launchers, can be fitted with banned cluster mines.
Lt Col Ovcharuk, 42, said they break up before impact and scatter smaller bomblets, including time-delay anti-tank and anti-personnel mines.
He added: “The worst ones are the anti-tank mines. They are the hardest to make safe.”
He cruises daily round Kharkiv in a truck with Alex Humenchak, 38, Volodymir Herynenko, 43, and Vladislav Shapobal, 26.
The vehicle’s sides are pockmarked with holes and the passenger window has been blown out.
They have only had one day off, Orthodox Easter Sunday, since Vladimir Putin unleashed his bloodbath on February 24.
As of mid-April, more than 300 people had died in Kharkiv from Russian rockets, including more than 200 civilians. Another 964 civilians and 513 soldiers were wounded.
The bomb squad said the missile mountain was only part of their haul.
Alex said: “These ones are all safe, with no explosives. If there are anti-tank mines undamaged, we give them to our military. Everything else, the cluster mines, explosives, we have to keep separately and destroy.”
At a secret location, we watched them detonate 2.7 tons of explosives, including white phosphorous bombs. It sent soil and shrapnel skywards — to cheers from the team.
But it was a chilling reminder of the dangers they face. Lt Col Ovcharuk shrugged: “We are always afraid, but you need to be to do our job.”