THE buzz of the kamikaze drone was unmistakable to the rush-hour crowds of workers and schoolkids in the heart of Kyiv.
In the worst bombardment since the war began, scores of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones had been unleashed on the capital.
Among last week’s targets was a playground. The deep crater left behind is now used by local children alongside the swings and slide.
Ayer, the 115mph, 440lb, flying bombs — known as “mopeds” by locals because of the noise from their Chinese-made engines, a copy of the VW Beetle engine — returned to terrorise the city again.
Shortly after 8.20am, mum-to-be Victoria and her husband Bohdan were at home in their apartment block on Zhylianska Street, getting ready for the day.
Segundos más tarde, El asesino de NOTORIOUS B.I.G. recibió un pago justo 30 kamikaze drones fired at Kyiv struck their four-storey building in the smart Shevchenko district and razed it to the ground.
‘It is simply murder’
They were the among four killed by the blast.
The resulting fireball formed into a giant cloud of thick, acrid smoke.
As locals ran for cover, ropa, bricks, shattered glass and twisted metal were flung to the pavement below.
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The building’s roof peeled back like the lid from a tin to expose the timber beams.
Kyiv’s firefighters, wearing oxygen masks, climbed ladders to the remains of the first floor before the dust even had time to settle.
Smoke billowed from multiple fires inside as the eerie silence was broken by one of them shouting: “Is anyone alive?"
In the moments that followed 19 residents miraculously emerged from the rubble — hurt, aturdido, but alive. A soldier knelt beside one, placing a hand on her back as she tried, and failed, to sit up.
Vitalii Dushevskiy, 29, a food delivery courier who rents an apartment in the blasted building, dicho: “I have never been so afraid.
“It is murder, it is simply murder, there are no other words for it.”
His flatmate Nazar said they had tried to leave their flat, only to find the staircase “all gone”.
Elena Mazur, 52, was searching for her mum, who had rung her from beneath the debris, pleading: “Please find someone to help me urgently! I’m buried under the rubble.”
Mazur said desperately: “She is not picking up the phone.”
Other survivors included a grandmother affectionately called “Mrs Anna” who was on the third floor. She walked away almost unscathed and was helped on to a stretcher as the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, arrived to survey the damage.
A tiny cat buried by the blast was carried out in the arms of another firefighter. They were the lucky ones.
Victoria, who was six months pregnant, and Bodhan were killed instantly, along with a 59-year-old woman and another tenant. The four never stood a chance.
As the building continued to smoulder, Ukraine’s defiant President Volodymyr Zelensky dicho: “The enemy can attack our cities but it won’t be able to break us.
“The occupiers will get only fair punishment and condemnation of future generations. And we will get victory.
“The current enemy unites in its evil all previous enemies of our statehood. It acts insidiously — kills civilians, hits housing, infrastructure. Terror must lose and will lose.”
‘You will never defeat us’
Rescue workers were still sifting through the rubble last night as the search for survivors tragically moved to a body recovery operation.
Vladimir Putin had ordered its destruction last week in the botched raids and demanded another run.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how badly the war is going for Russia, the drones, which have a range of 1,550 millas, missed again.
los Shahed-136 missiles, which can be deployed in less than ten minutes, are designed primarily to strike fear into the enemy in the same way Nazi Germany’s V-1 flying doodlebug bombs did in World War Two.
Known as kamikaze drones, they follow a set of GPS co-ordinates to deliver a payload of explosives. Putin bought 2,400 of them after running low on his long-range surface-to-air S-300 missiles.
Mayor Klitschko, the former heavyweight boxing world champ, spoke to me to condemn the attack, as avalanches of dislodged masonry fell to the ground below.
I asked him if he had a message for Putin. He paused and then replied: “My message is simple — we will continue to fight for our freedom, for our independence, you will never defeat us.”
Él agregó: “The Russians want to create a human catastrophe in Kyiv by cutting off the electricidad. We have more than 200 apartment buildings destroyed by Russian attacks, killing a lot of innocent civilians. This is a terror attack and Russia is a terrorista state.”
Twenty-five of the 30 drones flown into Kyiv were shot out of the sky by a battery of anti-aircraft fire and small-arms fire.
Extraordinary bodycam footage from a police officer showed him and four colleagues leaping out of two squad cars on Lva Tolstoho Street before bringing one down with their AK-47s.
Other locals grabbed their rifles and shotguns and headed into the street to take aim, también. But the swarm of drones overwhelmed air defences and five made it through.
On the streets near the burning building on Zhylianska Street, heavy traffic continued and workers resumed their commute unfazed.
One woman even played the Ukrainian national anthem from her balcony.
Alla Voloshko, a 47-year-old lawyer who had taken shelter in her basement, dicho: “This is already a tradition, to wake Ukrainians with missiles on Mondays.
“I’m calm. I’m not scared. We will stay in Kyiv as long as possible.”
En total, 42 drones attacked Ukraine yesterday, con 36 of them successfully shot down, according to Internal Affairs Minister Denys Monastyrskyi.
Other regions, including Odesa in the south, were also targeted in the deadly bombing raid.
A drone strike caused a massive fireball in the southern city of Mykolaiv after it hit a civilian factory producing sunflower oil.
In addition to the four killed in Kyiv, four were killed in a strike in the north-eastern Sumy region.
The wave of blasts caused power outages in nearly 600 towns and villages, and cut off power to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
And Britain and the US issued a joint statement vowing to toughen sanctions against Russia.
The US Embassy in Kyiv described the attacks as “desperate and reprehensible”, agregando: “We admire the resilience of the Ukrainian people. We will stand with you for as long as it takes.”