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5 Sep, 2014 09:48

‘Kids could step on explosives’: Donetsk residents fear unexploded shells

‘Kids could step on explosives’: Donetsk residents fear unexploded shells

The city of Donetsk not only faces a threat from the sky, with bombs and shells fired by Kiev troops, but also from the ground, from thousands of unexploded shells. RT Paula Slier followed local sappers as they deactivated the deadly weapons.

“About 10 percent of the missiles that we discover on the ground are unexploded,” one of the sappers working in Donetsk told RT.

RT’s Paula Slier reported that one of the unexploded shells hit a gas pipe, adding that one can actually smell gas in the area.

Together with the sappers, Slier headed to the outskirts of the city where massive shelling was reported earlier.

“This whole village has been shelled by grads [rockets]. And there is one that didn't explode. It didn't detonate,” said the sapper.

According another sapper, looking for unexploded shells is a very complicated job as they can’t always say “about the consequences because [they] don't know what kind of missile [they] are looking for.”

“We can't see it. The only thing we can see is the entry point,” he added. “We need to make sure that the missile exploded. We are always checking, taking out the shrapnel and little parts of the missile.”

An unexploded shell in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine (screenshot from RT)

The local residents say it is now “terrifying” to live in the city due to unexploded shells.

“When children go outside there's a constant danger of them stepping on an explosive. It's not even safe for them to go to school. Elderly people are also at great risk. A shell could blow up at any moment,” a local woman told RT.

“This is very dangerous and they need to be taken away because if it hasn't exploded who knows when it will,” added a local man.

Donetsk Region along with Lugansk Region has been engulfed in a violent internal conflict since April, when Kiev’s military began its crackdown on parts of the Ukraine’s southeast.

Since then artillery fire has repeatedly been heard in Donetsk, which used to be a city of a million people.

On Friday morning the situation in the city was called “tense” by the city authorities as on Thursday evening Ukrainian troops shelled residential areas, destroying the buildings of a local school and planetarium. One resident was killed in the attack. Later, Friday morning self-defense forces were attacking the city airport where the Ukrainian soldiers have camped.

An unexploded shell in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine (screenshot from RT)

According to United Nations’ estimates, over 2,249 people have so far been killed and over 6,033 wounded in the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The number of internally displaced Ukrainians has reached 190,000, with another 207,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.

Meanwhile, all hopes of Ukrainian civilians are turned to Friday meeting in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where the Ukrainian president and the leaders of the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk will hold peace talks.

"At 14:00 local time (11:00GMT Friday), provided the [Minsk] meeting takes place, I will call on the General Staff to set up a bilateral ceasefire and we hope that the implementation of the peace plan will begin tomorrow," Petro Poroshenko said on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales on Thursday.

The self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk are “ready to order a ceasefire tomorrow on September 5, 2014, at 15:00 local time [12:00GMT] if agreement is reached and the Ukrainian representatives sign up to the plan for a political settlement of the conflict,” the leaders of the two republics said in a joint statement.