/Live updates: Russia invades Ukraine and Vladimir Putin news – CNN

Live updates: Russia invades Ukraine and Vladimir Putin news – CNN

From left, Sofia, Yulia, Yulia’s mother and Aryna.
From left, Sofia, Yulia, Yulia’s mother and Aryna. (Courtesy Yulia Klepets)

About a minute after the sirens went off on Saturday morning, Yulia Klepets heard a huge boom. She saw from her window that an apartment building roughly 200 meters from her home got hit by something.

A huge hole appeared on one side of the high-rise building. There was fire and smoke. Debris was flying around. She started panicking; her whole body was shaking. 

Klepets has been hunkering down in her home alongside her mother, two daughters and a cousin. The five women had to made a quick decision. Klepets’ cousin and younger daughter went down to an underground carpark that turned into a bomb shelter. She stayed behind with her mother and older daughter.

“My mother is 82 years old. She cannot walk on her own and there is no way to get her down, because we’re on the seventh floor,” she told CNN on Saturday. 

Klepets’ older daughter, Aryna, is 25 years old and has autism. She was in a state of shock, unable to move.

“She couldn’t go down the stairs. She wouldn’t be able to stay in the shelter,” Klepets said. 

Aryna doesn’t understand what is going on, Klepets said. She keeps asking her mother whether or not there will be any more shaking. 

“She wants to go to the sea, or at least to the pool, and I have to explain to her that there is a war right now so we cannot do that, and then she says, ‘Maybe it will end and then we’ll go to someplace nice [near] the sea,’” Klepets said, adding that Aryna doesn’t know how to swim, but she really loves the seaside. “She finds [it] miraculous when she’s next to the sea.” 

Aryna (Courtesy Yulia Klepets)

Not long after the strike, Klepets’ cousin came back from the basement. She said Sofia, Klepets’ younger daughter, was too scared without her. She tried to resist, refusing to leave her mother and Aryna behind, but was forced to go.

“We said our goodbyes. We hugged each other without saying a word,” she said.

Klepets said she has been trying to get help for her mother and Aryna for the past four days.

“I called the rehabilitation service center and was told that people who were unable to move by themselves needed to call and register so that they are on the list of people who need help with mobility,” she said. “They told me to call the next day, that they would tell me which documents we needed. Then they told me that they can come to my apartment and help me clean but they did not offer to take my daughter out. I don’t know what to say about this,” she said. 

Klepets said that families of people with disabilities are finding themselves trapped in Kyiv. 

“Yesterday, there were evacuations, so there was a chance to get away. There were trains, the local transport was running fee of charge, the trains were free, but you had to come to the railway station on your own and I cannot leave my mother,” she said.

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