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'We are in very big danger':  Kharkiv residents shelter as Russia attacks

“You never know where Russians are bombing,” a mother said as she huddled with her infant son in a basement.
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UMAN, Ukraine — Yasmina Vladimirovich and her baby have fled deep underground, but they still don’t feel safe from the Russian bombs raining down above them.

“All the time we hear the bombing and shooting and we don’t know how to sleep and how we will live tomorrow,” the teacher said as she huddled with her 5-month-old in a basement near the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. “I hear the sounds of falling bombs. We are in very big danger.” 

Swaddled in blankets and a sky-blue wool cap, Tymur stayed peacefully in his carriage, seemingly oblivious to the events swirling around him. Vladimirovich, 31, has been sheltering with neighbors and family, with one man holding a chihuahua in his lap.

The group heard bombing until late Tuesday morning, and Vladimirovich said she was afraid to sleep amid the sounds of explosions and gunshots overhead.

“You never know where Russians are bombing,” she told NBC News in a video sent via WhatsApp.

Russian shelling of the city in the northeast of Ukraine intensified early Tuesday, in an apparent escalation of Moscow's assault.

As the group of eight hunkered down in the basement, a missile destroyed parts of the regional state administration building, killing at least 10 people including one child, and injuring at least 20, according to officials and emergency services. The building stood at the city’s center, on Freedom Square.

People gather at a metro station as they seek shelter from expected Russian air strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, 2022.
People gather at a subway station as they seek shelter from expected Russian airstrikes in Kharkiv.Reuters

“The center of our city is destroyed,” Vladimirovich said, adding that Putin was killing ordinary people.

The new mother said she was running low on baby food, and was without any fuel or money to leave the city. The group, she said, was unsure how, and whether, they will leave their shelter.

Elsewhere in Kharkiv, Sergei Shpak, 28, a website developer, was sheltering from the fresh attacks in his neighborhood subway station. Shpak, his wife and his 1-year-old son have been living in the station for two days, after seeing Russian soldiers on the streets.

The headquarters of the Kharkiv administration in Ukraine after it was shelled Tuesday.AFP - Getty Images

“We saw them from our windows. It was very scary,” he told NBC News in a voice message.

During his stay underground, Shpak said he navigates the city through its train tunnels, scouring the streets to find food, water and medicine for his family and other children who are also in the station.

The task took him up to eight hours a day. Video from the city shows supermarket shelves emptied of food.

Since Tuesday's renewed attacks, Shpak said he has decided to leave Kharkiv with his family. But his plans to leave his home city are temporary.

“I decide to help my family to leave this country. After that I want to return to Kharkiv to join the army and help our troops,” he said.

Mo Abbas reported from Uman, Ukraine; Rhoda Kwan reported from Taipei, Taiwan.