A Ukrainian father's whole world turned upside down in a matter of a few seconds when his 16-year-old son was hit by Russian shelling while playing football with his friends outside his house. Iliya, 16, was playing football with his two friends on the streets of Mariupol when the tragedy struck. A heartbreaking image of the teenager's father weeping at the side of his son's dead body draped in a blood-stained sheet went viral on social media.
Iliya was struck by an explosive while playing near Azov Sea city on Wednesday. His friends, Avid and Artyom, were found with shrapnel in their legs and are now facing the risk of amputations. The boys were immediately rushed to the nearest hospital after the attack via a car, but Iliya was declared dead.
As Iliya's father cradled his lifeless body, he sobbed uncontrollably. "My little son," he cried. The AP photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, who captured the soul-crushing image, told the Telegraph that a car pulled outside the hospital with two badly injured teenagers.
'The Hospital itself was Shelled by a Grad Multi-Rocket System'
"One had his legs riddled with bullets, looking like raw meat. Iliya. He was already dead. Artyom sat behind him. He was conscious. They were rushed to an ICU," Maloletka said.
He further noted that Artyom and David's legs were riddled with bullets. Generally, people with such injuries, which is very common there, get their legs amputated. "The hospital they were taken to was shelled by a Grad multi-rocket system. Nearby houses were shelled. People in that hospital often had to be laid on the floor," Maloletka noted.
No Electricity, Food or Water in Mariupol
Mariupol remained surrounded by Russian troops under constant shelling which has predominantly destroyed major properties and cut off the supply of power and electricity. People in the Mariupol are left facing food shortages without electricity after five days of constant shelling.
Mariupol is on Russia's target because of its port and location on the Sea of Azov. Mariupol's mayor Vadym Boichenko dubbed the Russian attack on his city as a 'full-scale genocide of the Ukrainian people.'
"Residential areas heavily bombed. The situation is awful, we are near to a humanitarian catastrophe. We have been under more than 15 hours of continuous shelling without pause," Deputy Mayor of Mariupol said.