Ukraine conflict: Indians stranded in shelling-battered Sumy call for immediate evacuation

A view shows damaged buildings following recent shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 2, 2022. Photo: Maksim Levin/Reuters

New Delhi: As shells rain down from above and armed men roam the streets in Sumy, the northeastern Ukrainian border town, amid the ongoing Russian invasion, a bunch of Indian students stranded there took to social media to plead for evacuation.

Staring at fast-depleting food and water supplies, they are posting updates every few hours, and urging the government to rescue them immediately before the situation worsens and they are "reduced to bodies".

One of them, Mahek Shaikh, shared an eight-second video clip on Thursday of what appeared to be a blast in the town.

"Complete city blackout, no electricity and water supply and multiple bomb blasts nearby. Slow network," she wrote in the post.

Another medical student, Radhika Sangwan, said 700-800 students are stranded in Sumy, and there was no confirmed news on their evacuation.

"I am a student in Sumy, Ukraine. YES, WE EXIST!!! There are 700-800 students in Sumy. It's the 7th day of the attack and there is no confirmed news on our evacuation. Stress, fear and anxiety are getting to us. Hope is lost. Please help," Sangwan tweeted on Thursday.

On Sunday, the Indian embassy in Ukraine said intense fighting was underway in Kharkiv, Sumy and Kyiv, and urged Indians in these cities and wherever curfew has been applied to not venture towards railway stations until such curbs are lifted and considerable civilian movement is renewed.

According to several reports, trains and buses have stopped plying in Sumy, roads and bridges out of the city were destroyed and fighting was underway on the streets.

All routes were blocked and no help from the embassy in sight, the students are worried about their well-being.

Holed up in a bunker, three visibly-distressed medical students shared a video on social media in which they pleaded for evacuation, saying they are running out of food and the security situation is worsening.

"There is no electricity. We are running out of water. There was a huge explosion that is why we ran into the bunker. Please evacuate us," one of them said.

In another video shared tweeted by Shaikh on Thursday, several armed men were seen roaming outside their hostel.

"Looking out of our room's window, another sighting of armed men going around our hostel is what we notice. It's unsafe to step out and the Indian Embassy wants us to catch trains and cross cities. Please evacuate us before the situation worsens," she wrote.

To evacuate citizens from war-hit Ukraine, the Indian government have initiated Operation Ganga. However, the evacuation from the eastern part of the country has been a cause of concern as heavy violence is underway.

India has been evacuating its citizens through special flights from Ukraine's western neighbours such as Romania, Hungary and Poland as the Ukrainian airspace has been shut since February 24 due to the Russian military offensive.

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