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98-year-old Ukrainian woman treks miles under shelling to escape Russian forces

A 98-year-old woman in Ukraine who escaped Russian-occupied territory by walking almost 10 kilometers (6 miles) alone, wearing a pair of slippers and supported by a cane, has been reunited with her family days after they were separated while fleeing to safety.

Lidia Stepanivna Lomikovska and her family decided to leave the frontline town of Ocheretyne, in the eastern Donetsk region, last week after Russian troops entered it and fighting intensified.

Russians have been advancing in the area, pounding Kyiv’s depleted, ammunition-deprived forces with artillery, drones and bombs.

“I woke up surrounded by shooting all around — so scary,” Lomikovska said in a video interview posted by the National Police of Donetsk region.

In the chaos of the departure, Lomikovska became separated from her son and two daughters-in-law, including one, Olha Lomikovska, injured by shrapnel days earlier. The younger family members took to back routes, but Lydia wanted to stay on the main road.

With a cane in one hand and steadying herself using a splintered piece of wood in the other, she walked all day without food and water to reach Ukrainian lines.

Describing her journey, the nonagenarian said she had fallen twice and was forced to stop to rest at some points, even sleeping along the way before waking up and continuing her journey.

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“Once I lost balance and fell into weeds. I fell asleep … a little, and continued walking. And then, for the second time, again, I fell. But then I got up and thought to myself: “I need to keep walking, bit by bit,’” Lomikovska said.

Pavlo Diachenko, acting spokesman for the National Police of Ukraine in the Donetsk region, said Lomikovska was saved when Ukrainian soldiers spotted her walking along the road in the evening.

They handed her over to the “White Angels,” a police group that evacuates citizens living on the front line, who then took her to a shelter for evacuees and contacted her relatives.

“I survived that war,’ she said referring to World War II. “I had to go through this war too, and in the end, I am left with nothing.

“That war wasn’t like this one. I saw that war. Not a single house burned down. But now – everything is on fire,” she said to her rescuer.

In the latest twist to the story, the chief executive of one of Ukraine’s largest banks announced on his Telegram channel Tuesday that the bank would purchase a house for the pensioner.

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“Monobank will buy Lydia Stepanivna a house and she will surely live in it until the moment when this abomination disappears from our land,” Oleh Horokhovskyi said.

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