“Everything in the house was blown to pieces by shrapnel,” said Ms Grouzdeva, met on Wednesday, as she cleared the debris in her small blue-painted house in the suburb of Dobropillia .

Located in the Donetsk region, the city is about 150 kilometers from the epicenter of the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

“It was because we were lying in bed” that we are safe. “If we had been standing, we would all have been pierced” by shrapnel, said the 45-year-old housewife.

“There was a crack and everything started to fall apart,” she says.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a single strike slammed into the street just off the town’s main road, leveling a house entirely and killing a man.

Dobropillia had previously suffered only a few bombardments during the war, unlike cities further north such as Lysytchansk and Severodonetsk.

But on Tuesday there were at least three strikes during the day, residents said, suggesting that Russia may see the town as a crossroads for Ukrainian forces and a target in the future.

The strike left a huge crater, the blast tore roofs off and blew out windows of homes further down the street, many of whose residents had already left.

Ms Gruzdeva’s family ran out in a huge cloud of dust and hid in the basement, fearing more strikes.

“We kept our cool. We suspected something like this could happen,” she said. The family has since moved to another house, which was lent to them by “nice people”.

– “Peaceful houses” –

According to residents, the man killed in the first house on the street was taking care of it for the absent owners.

Near the heap of ruins, a Ukrainian flag still flies on a fence post.

A man, who works on a damaged roof while smoking a cigarette, says: “They hit us and we laugh!”.

Vitali Popelichko, another homeowner who examines the huge hole in the front of his house, says it cannot be repaired because “all the walls are cracked and it will have to be demolished”.

The 33-year-old coal mine worker escaped with a scratch on his forehead, but looks pale and shocked. He explains that his father, who was also inside at the time, is upset.

“So far, since the start, there have been ten strikes. But for yesterday alone, there were three. That means they are in a position from which they can bombard us” , he said.

“Why are they bombing peaceful houses? Who was stationed here? There are no soldiers, no one,” he said.

The blast blew through the windows of a car depot at the end of the street with a large hangar which may have been the intended target, although AFP reporters did not see any military vehicles at the scene. inside.

“I don’t know what you can call it? It’s medieval,” said Serguïi Semenets, a volunteer from the local territorial defense force, soon joined by a vehicle carrying humanitarian aid.

Until now, things were “going smoothly” in the city but, he claims, “they want to destroy Ukraine”.