Ukrainian journalist Alex Merkulov speaks with CNN on Friday April 8.
Ukrainian journalist Alex Merkulov was at the Kramatorsk station when it was attacked by a Russian missile strike on Friday, killing at least 50 people, including five children.
His footage from the scene shows the confusion in the aftermath of the attack, with crowds trying to push in and out of the station and people crying out in pain. Bloody footsteps can be seen smeared on the floor and burning cars outside.
Merkulov, who works for Donetchina TV, said there were two sites where crowds had gathered that day.
“One was on the street where people were queueing up to board the train and to be evacuated, and the other one was the waiting area in the train station itself where people were divided and organized into several groups,” he said.
“Because all of these people, they come from areas that have been in the combat action for eight years already, they know what to do as soon as there is an explosion. So the moment the explosion went bang and everybody was on the floor.”
Merkulov was about 80 feet (24 meters) away from where the rocket hit, speaking to an older woman outside the station. He said he felt “right away” an “air blast — this really powerful wave.”
“Although the explosion itself didn’t seem to be that hard, the wave was unbelievable. It’s as if something just hit you on your head. And your legs couldn’t keep you any longer. You couldn’t stand on them,” he said.
“And you understand that something terrible happened but you’re not aware what it is. And you’re afraid to look up, but you know you have to do something.”
Before the blast, Merkulov was speaking to people trying to evacuate. Though the station was crowded, he said it was a calm atmosphere, with people waiting for their trains, drinking coffee or lining up outside.
The blast tore that apart, creating panic and confusion.
“They were afraid, they couldn’t understand what was going on, those who were waiting on the streets, they thought it would be safer to go into the building. Those who were in the building felt like they needed to leave the building and go onto the streets because they were afraid of a second strike,” he said.
Merkulov said there was “no way” to process what happened.
“So many young people who came there with their parents, and they were having coffee, and everything was so peaceful, and then all of a sudden, there is this just shock and horror,” he said.