Ukrainian guards fired warning shots to prevent a stampede at Kyiv’s central railway station on Friday as thousands of people tried to force their way onto evacuation trains.
Crowds were so large that not everyone could get on the trains from the capital to the western city of Lviv as fears of a Russian assault on Kyiv mounted.
When a train drew up at a platform, people rushed to the doors, hoping to get on board, some of them with their children and pets. The guards fired several shots with blanks to disperse the crowd after screams broke out.
Thirty-year-old Maria gave up trying to leave after spending four hours at the station with her child, husband and dog.
“You can see, it’s dangerous to break through the crowd with a kid. The dog is scared. Honestly, we’re exhausted,” she told news agency Reuters.
Some foreign students also tried to leave. One, a girl from Mongolia, said at the station that she and her fellow students had been offered the possibility of being evacuated home if they managed to reach Poland, which borders western Ukraine.
“I’m not afraid of anything,” said Iryna, a 35-year-old woman who also failed to get on a train. “We stand for the truth and if we stand for the truth, God is on our side. I’m ready to stay in Kyiv if needed and give moral support to our army.”
Many others chose to flee in their cars, choking roads outside the capital for a second day.
Tens of thousands have already managed to leave the country, most of them women and children as men of fighting age were told to remain.