BAKHMUT (Ukraine) -- Russian attacks are accelerating in Ukraine's fighting for independence. They are cutting off power, water, and gas supply to entire cities and towns. Utility crews are being sent to fix the damaged transmission lines and pipes and are now caught in the middle.
Officials say that sometimes crews arrive at a site only to have to leave because of fighting. Some villages are difficult to reach.
Sergii Marokhin, a water system engineer from Bakhmut, said that it is dangerous because they can hear the shells whirling above them. This town has been under increased shelling lately as Russian forces push their offensive in Donetsk, Ukraine's eastern industrial center.
The day before, Shelling had caused damage to water pipes in Bakhmut and a nearby village. He and his crew were repairing them that morning. It was necessary to repair a sewage line and to repair water lines in nearby villages.
Even on calm days, maintenance needs to be performed regularly.
He said, "People still work during wartime," with a smile.
Some people in hard-hit areas have had to rely on outdoor stoves and ovens made of bricks or stones for shelter.
"As of today half of the city is without running water. Oleksandr Marsenko, deputy head for the Bakhmut military government, stated Wednesday that the other half of the city gets water from boreholes. He said that a dam in the north was destroyed, which dried up the canal running past Bakhmut.
Although the city has a backup supply of water, downed power lines prevented the water pumping. If it was safe, engineers hoped to repair any damage.
Marchenko stated that "Unfortunately, the City gets bombed every single day." To prove his point, mortar bombs whirled over his head, sending Marchenko diving onto a riverbank to cover.
The mortar fire struck the northern side of the city with a loud bang, sending up black smoke.
Viktor Paramonov, along with a few others, shouted, "There is no gas," "Electronics," and "Water!" as they prepared to cook on an open-air stove made of a woodfire and a metal plate on bricks. "There is nothing."
A nearby building materials factory was also destroyed by bombings a few days before. The apartment building adjacent to him was hit in mid-May and collapsed a part.
Further north, in Sloviansk a generator buzzed in city hall after power was cut due to high-voltage lines that were downed by fighting just east. Water supply was also cut.
Vadym Lyakh (head of Sloviansk’s military administration) stated that repair crews must go to areas of combat operations which can be dangerous.
He said that water was delivered by the city authorities to the Sloviansk residents, which now number about 30,000, rather than the prewar 100,000. Others used communal water pumps.
Residents filled buckets with plastic bottles and used yellow pumps to fill the streets behind a number of apartments that were ravaged by shrapnel from a recent rocket strike.
An older man grumbled that the pump is too difficult to use. He said that some women must wait for a man who can operate the lever. As he built a small stove from metal to cook outside, he explained that not all women are able to do it.
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