MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – If Mariupol resident Alexandra’s husband could have stayed alive long enough to receive the humanitarian aid that finally came to their part of the besieged city on Thursday, he would have lived, she said.
Instead, suffering from diabetes, he slipped into a coma and died. He is buried in a flowerbed.
The softly spoken, middle-aged Alexandra – she did not give her last name – was among crowds of people quietly lining up in Mariupol to receive boxes of aid.
The southeastern port city has become the focal point of the war raging in Ukraine. Under heavy bombardment by Russian forces, it has become a wasteland, its citizens sheltering in basements with scant food and water.
Russian forces have seized parts of the city, according to Ukrainian officials.
In front of what once was a shopping centre, residents waited patiently for boxes of supplies, bearing the “Z” symbol of what Russia calls its “special operation”. Hundreds of people of all ages, dressed in coats and hats against the cold, emerged from ruins to queue.
In one place, they charged their phones at outdoor desks holding rows of plugs.
“Living in this city is hard now, we’ve got no apartment – it’s burned down,” said Alexandra.
Her husband’s relatives in Russia did not yet know he had died, she said. The priest had read a service for him the day before and she wanted to ensure he was buried properly and had a death certificate issued. Reuters was unable to independently verify the details of her account.
“We are planning on leaving but it’s very difficult at the moment,” said Alexandra. “I can’t leave my husband in a flowerbed.”
“And then we have nowhere to go.”
(Reporting by Pavel Klimov in Mariupol; Writing by Rosalba O’Brien; editing by Grant McCool)