A nightclub owner in Ukraine said Tuesday that he assisted in evacuating more than 200 people from Mariupol in a war-battered red van, which he plans to make into a “monument” after the crisis is over.
According to reports, Mykhailo Puryshev, 36, claimed he made six hazardous trips to help people of his community in March before being told by a separatist soldier not to return or risk detention and punishment.
“The bus came under shelling, a strike, mortar, rifle fire, to be honest, there are so many marks of war on it,” Puryshev said.
“The only injury I had was a glass shard in my side,” he added. “But my coat saved me, and I only got a scratch. God protected me, of course. My bus looked after me.”
Puryshev, who previously managed a nightclub in Mariupol, told reporters that when he arrived in the city on March 8, it was like a “cloud of smoke, like a bonfire.”
“The last time I went, it was just ash with the black coal of buildings,” he said.
A part of a destroyed tank and a burnt vehicle lay in a sector held by Russian-backed separatist rebels in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Saturday, April 23.
Puryshev claims he drove eight hours to Mariupol through Russian-controlled territory, dodging mud and bodies on the road while looking for land mines.
He said that he initially instructed his nightclub staff to construct a bomb shelter in the basement for around 200 people before rescuing them and others who had sought refuge there.