BBC's Quentin Sommerville escapes Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv

The moment BBC reporter is shelled by the Russians: Quentin Sommerville narrowly escapes Grad bombardment in another stunning report from Ukraine frontlines

  • Brave BBC Middle East editor sprints from Russian rockets landing on Kharkiv
  • Sommerville takes shelter in hollowed out building with cameraman and soldier
  • Thousands of Grad rockets have rained down on residential areas in Kharkiv
  • Drones, aircraft, attack helicopters and missiles have all been used on the city

As the BBC’s Middle East correspondent based in Beirut, Quentin Sommerville has probably seen it all.

He was in Kabul when the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan and accompanied Iraqi troops as they retook Mosul from Isis in 2017.

But even Sommerville was more than a little taken aback as Russian Grad rockets rained down on Kharkiv yesterday afternoon.

Sommerville (right) is rushed into a bomb shelter underneath a damaged building on a dense residential street in Kharkiv – and moments later, the rockets begin to fall

The Ukrainian army guide (left) stays ice cool as he leads the BBC crew to shelter

The war reporter’s latest dispatch shows him, a BBC cameraman and their Ukrainian army guide hurry them into a hollowed out building on a bombed residential street in Kharkiv.

Just moments after taking cover inside, a flurry of explosions strike the street outside.

Sommerville says to a producer still outside while the rockets hit: ‘Get in! Get in!’

Angered that control of Kharkiv has proven hard to come by, Sommerville says, the Russians ‘are taking out their anger with artillery’.

‘Away from the front, no neighbourhood is safe’, he adds. ‘Russian Grad rockets fall all around us. This is the reckless targeting of human life.’

Ukraine’s second biggest city, where the vast majority speak Russian as a first language, was previously populated by 1.4 million.

Now it is just a proportion of that, with all those able to flee doing so – to safer climes in the west of Ukraine and, if possible, across the border to Poland, Hungary and other neighbours.

Smoke fills the street in the residential neighbourhood after a smattering of Grad rockets fall

The tiny shelter below the apartment block is strong enough to withstand blasts on the street

Ex-air force pilot Constantine, 58, told Sommerville he was fighting once again to protect his homeland.

Now walking with a limp and an old broom handle to help him, Constantine is a symbol of Ukraine’s rugged resistance.

He said: ‘This is the last line of defence for the city. If they get through here, they will enter Kharkiv. This road takes you from Russia to the very heart of the city.’

Refugees who are lucky enough to find a space on westbound trains wait for 20 nervous hours to arrive in Lviv.

Waiting times on the Polish border are now around nine hours, according to Ukrainians.

It may get worse before it gets better. But for now, Kharkiv – and the BBC crew stationed there – is holding firm.

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