War in Ukraine: The unanswered motive of the corpse number 13 of the Zaporizhia massacre | International
The mobile rings. Once, another, another… until it breaks. The owner, wearing a black jacket and pants, remains lying on his right side in the middle seat of a van. Several trails of blood run down his face and hand. He is one of the 30 bodies left by the missile attack that took place at 7:15 this Friday in Zaporizhia, a city in southern Ukraine. kyiv points to Moscow. From there they affirm the opposite. The fact is that all the dead, as well as the 88 wounded, are civilians. And the attack has occurred at a well-known meeting point for caravans loaded with Ukrainian citizens escaping from the zone invaded by Russia.
The phone that rings unanswered is that of dead number 13. He has this number written behind his left ear, the most accessible for those who, shortly after the attack, came to attend to the fifty wounded and certify the deaths of those who they did not survive. And number them in marker. There are two other bodies in the same van, surrounded by some of their personal belongings and bottles of water. In the passenger compartment there are traces of glass, small stones and dust everywhere. The bodywork is pierced by impacts from the splinters.
This is also the case with the other vehicles, some with smashed doors and hoods. Many tires, punctured. A few meters away, a large sinkhole caused by the missile that, according to kyiv, came from the Russian side. A woman met death in the passenger seat with her bag on her lap. Another body, in the back seat, remains next to the dog that accompanied them and who also lost his life. A little further on, a driver, in his 60s, remains with his left hand still on the wheel.
Others were caught outside their vehicles by the explosion. And there they have stayed. Some are scattered around the place. Others, next to their vehicles. Two middle-aged women are lying next to each other. One face to the sky, the other with the right chin on the asphalt. Next to her face, her phone. A somewhat older man remains slumped in the middle of the blood next to the underside of what must have been his car. Two police officers approach him who, after lifting the plastic tape that marks the perimeter of the horror, let a couple pass. The woman identifies him between screams and tears. The dramas begin to spin and confirm.
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A few meters away another body lies next to a large trail of blood and luggage on a cart and a black bag. When they uncover it to put it in the black plastic shroud, it is seen that it is a woman of a certain age. From her clothes they take out a wad of bills. A uniformed woman photographs the money before putting it in the deceased's bag.
Up to the scene devastated by the explosion in dozens of meters around, relatives and close friends are arriving. A man who has been in the place from the beginning, who has taken a statement at the same scene, moves belongings from what appears to be his car. A girl in a gray tracksuit sees him in the distance and moves quickly until they hug. He has lost his wife. She, her mother. Together they approach the bag where the woman is already lying, next to an ambulance.
The taking of statements from witnesses and relatives is improvised looking for some privacy behind a booth that occupied a grocery store. There are the remains of blood along with some scattered bills and coins. Milk buns, treats, drinks and mess. The table and the two chairs for the clients are the office where the agents ask questions, listen and take notes.
Officials from the scientific police and the Prosecutor's Office that investigates war crimes wander around. The coroners are also busy, looking at each of the bodies. Next to some wooden tables, the soldiers place each piece of the missile they find. There are dozens of gray metal pieces of different shapes and sizes.
Three shells fell in this area used before the war as a car market, according to military sources. The one that hit the closest pierced a huge crater of several meters in the asphalt. About thirty vehicles were waiting to start the march. EL PAÍS visited this same place on Thursday and verified that it was not a military installation. It is an esplanade through which many families come and go around Zaporizhia, an important city that welcomes a large number of people who escape from the area invaded by the Russians and from where, as the authorities say, they sometimes leave caravans to bring aid to that occupied territory.
A few hours later, a group of employees removes the body of corpse number 13. They lay it down next to the van, examine it briefly and put it in a black plastic bag. Finally, he is lined up alongside other fatalities on the ground. At that time, what resounds in the sky are no longer the alarms before another possible Russian attack or the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses. The sky is overcast. It thunders and it rains. Several dogs prowl around the scene of the tragedy while they put their snouts in the pools of blood that the water is diluting.
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