Ukrainian, 98, tells BBC of six-mile walk to escape Russians

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Lidiia Lomikovska became separated from her family as they tried to escape Russian forces
By James Waterhouse
BBC News, Kyiv

For 98-year-old Lidiia Lomikovska, Russia’s invasion is worse than the Second World War, which she also lived through.

She’s learnt to trust her instincts.

It’s why when Russian forces entered her home village of Ocheretyne in eastern Ukraine, she and her family decided it was time to go.

However, under heavy shelling, Lidiia soon became separated from her relatives, so started walking west in her slippers.

“I took a stick and a plank of wood [for support] and made my way,” she told the BBC. “My legs were carrying me somehow; I wasn’t carrying them!”

She would end up walking 10km (6 miles) until she was picked up by Ukrainian police.

“There’s nothing left! It’s all upside down!” she could be seen telling her much-needed ride in a released video.

The village she left behind is gradually being turned into a hellscape by approaching Russian troops. The closer they get, the more intense the artillery fire becomes. Entire apartment blocks and houses are slowly turning to rubble and dust.

Lidiia Lomikovska walked six miles in her slippers

“As I started walking, I had to lie down a couple of times,” says Lidiia. “I once lost balance and fell into the grass. I had a sleep, and then carried on walking.”

Lidiia explains one of the officers asked how old she was. “I said I was 48 or 49, he didn’t believe me!” she says with a chuckle.

She was eventually taken to a shelter for some rest, before being reunited with her granddaughter, Svitlana.

Lidiia’s home village of Ocheretyne has been overtaken by Russian troops

“I’m so happy my grandmother is here!” says Svitlana, who’s sat next to Lidiia on our video call. “We’d been looking for her for a long time!”

Extraordinary as Lidiia’s journey was, she couldn’t escape a telling off from her younger relative. “I won’t repeat this,” she concedes.

“Oh no, don’t do that again!” was Svitlana’s stern reply.

Additional reporting by Anastasiia Levchenko.

5 hours ago10 April22 March

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