There was an awful near silence as the war crime investigators went about their business and the bodies of the victims were methodically packed into body bags.
We counted at least 15 body bags being loaded one on top of each other into a succession of ambulances. The death toll is higher and includes several children, one a baby just a few months old.
The attack was so swift and so deadly, when we arrived at the scene, many of the victims were still where they had died.
An elderly man’s hand was still clasping his steering wheel, frozen in time, his body slumped sideways onto the passenger seat.
Two young women were laying on the ground outside their vehicle, their legs at grotesque angles and flies massing round open wounds in their faces.
Perhaps they’d been chatting to each other when the missiles hit. A group were all in their seats in the van they were travelling in.
Someone had covered their bodies with thin white sheeting but you could still make out the front passenger, his mouth open, head back as he’d been killed.
The vehicles were packed with suitcases and medical packs the group were taking only a few miles down the road to help relatives, the elderly and the ill inside Russian-controlled territory.
According to Vladimir Putin, all this area is now Russian after he signed a decree annexing not only Zaporizhzhia but also Kherson and the two Donbas regions, Luhansk and Donetsk.
But in this clearing which was once the site for a car parts market, the Ukrainians who were gathering the DNA of their countrymen and women were digging in once again for a fight to hold on to their territory, but also a legal war which they’re determined to win.
“These are definitely war crimes,” the Ukrainian interior minister Denys Monastyrskyi told us after visiting the site.
“And Putin should pay for what he’s done.”
The aid convoy was a routine convoy. Up to 150 people met here daily first thing in the morning having got permission from the Russian authorities to visit the areas under Russian control.
They were planning to take out elderly or ill relatives who wanted to flee as well as deliver some provisions for those who didn’t want to leave their homes. They had no reason to suspect they would be the target of any attacks.
One witness, who asked only to be called Valeriy, said he couldn’t understand the questions about who had carried out this atrocity.
“I’m in shock from the rhetoric of journalists from Germany, from France, who ask who did this,” he told us.
“I speak with Russian soldiers just there (he points in the direction of the Russian-controlled areas) and even the Russian soldiers don’t think who did this… they know the Russian army bombed this.”
We spot Olga Linik on her telephone.
She’s obviously anxious and tells us she’s trying to find her parents. Her mother and father are both doctors and were in the convoy.
“I tried to persuade them to stay with me in Dnipro but they insisted they wanted to go and help people in the Russian areas,” she explains.
“My father rang me and I don’t know what’s happened but he said he tried to save my mother for an hour but I don’t know what happened.”
She breaks off to receive a call. It’s her father who comes out from amidst all the busted vehicles in the convoy and flings his arms around her, sobbing.
Her mother hasn’t made it.
The two walk off back into the bomb site where Olga and her father say their final goodbyes, arms around each other, their mother’s black body bag at their feet.
At the time of writing, according to the Ukrainian police 30 people in the convoy have died, including children, and 88 more have been injured, a number of them critically wounded, in a string of attacks on Zaporizhzhia throughout the day.
Many Ukrainians we spoke to attributed the spike in attacks to Russian losses on the battlefield.
But the attack on the civilian convoy also came hours before the Russian President publicly declared his country’s annexation of the four Ukrainian regions.
But the devastating civilian attacks only seem to have hardened the resolve of the Ukrainians and their leader with Volodymyr Zelenskyy slapping in his application for Ukraine to become a member of NATO.
It’s a threat which was said to have prompted his Russian counterpart to mount his “special operation” in the first place. The situation on the ground in Ukraine looks set to become a lot worse.
Also by cameraman Jake Britton, and producers Chris Cunningham and Artem Lysak in Zaporizhzhia.
Strikes on energy mean Ukraine is facing its toughest 125-day wintertime in post-Soviet history, energy boss Maksym Timchenko says
This winter will be the toughest in Ukraine’s history as an independent state as Russia targets power and water supplies, worsening the impact of the war, an energy boss has said.
But Maksym Timchenko told Sky News that Moscow will fail to turn out the lights for too long with its missile strikes because of his country’s ability to repair the damage quickly.
The chief executive of DTEK, the largest private Ukrainian energy firm, predicted that people will endure the next 125 days of wintertime “as brave Ukrainians” despite the threat of new Russian attacks against the energy grid.
“We will survive and we will win,” he said.
Workers from DTEK as well as Ukrenergo, the national electricity company, have mobilised – at great personal risk – to repair power stations, substations and other parts of the network that have been targeted by Russian airstrikes since October in a new energy frontline.
“This has the same importance for Ukrainian victories as the military frontline,” Mr Timchenko said.
Four of his employees have so far been killed on duty since Russia launched its full-scale war in February. Three died in rocket strikes and the fourth was killed by a mine.
“I’m so grateful to our people… who work in this industry,” he said. “These are real heroes and will stay in the history of Ukraine forever.”
With Russia thought already to have bombed more than a third of Ukraine’s energy system, the boss of DTEK predicted the coming months would be the harshest since at least 1991 when Ukraine gained its independence from the then Soviet Union.
“I can say with full confidence [it] will be the most difficult winter because we have never seen such destruction, such behaviour of our enemy, and we never lived under such conditions – constant rocket attacks and destruction and damage and explosions,” he said.
Equally, “I have full confidence that we will cope”.
Mr Timchenko said all six of his company’s thermal power stations had been hit, some of them several times, but they were all back up and running.
“In this fight, you learn a lot: how to restore power supply; how to restore the system; what creative technical solutions can be found so that we bring back our power stations,” he said.
“I have a strong belief that there is no chance that a complete blackout can continue for a long time so that people cannot live.”
But he appealed to the international community for more electrical transformers to assist with efforts to reconnect the grid. “Today, equipment is more important than money for us.”
A major attack on 23 November knocked power out across much of the country for tens of millions of people. Even many homes in the capital Kyiv were without electricity and water for at least 48 hours – the worst impact of Russia’s new tactic so far.
However, Mr Timchenko said despite the damage, it had been possible to retrieve power supplies. “Now we start this countdown of the winter season – 125 days – and trust me, we will get through these 125 days as brave Ukrainians,” he said.
In one home on the outskirts of Kyiv, a couple in their 70s said they would never give up no matter how long they must go without electricity and running water.
Liubov Sudakova and Volodymyr Sudakov are lucky because they have a log stove that keeps the house warm when the power is out. They have also stocked up on food – potatoes and other vegetables – grown in their garden.
“We just need the bombs to stop falling,” said Liubov. “When bombs were flying in the summer… I was in my garden and heard this ‘woosh’ and later boom. So that was scary.”
Pele: Brazil football legend back in hospital as he fights cancer
Brazilian football legend Pele is back in hospital, according to his daughter.
But in an Instagram post, Kely Nascimento also said there was “no emergency”, as he continues to fight colon cancer.
She said he had been admitted so that doctors could regulate his medication.
She wrote: “Lots of alarm in the media today concerning my dad’s health. He is in the hospital regulating medication.
“There is no emergency or new dire prediction. I will be there for New Years and promise to post some pictures.”
The football star had a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021 and has since been in and out of hospital for treatment on a regular basis.
ESPN is reporting the 82-year-old had been admitted to Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo with “general swelling” and was having cardiac issues.
And medics were concerned that chemotherapy treatment was not having the expected results.
Pele is to have further tests for a more in-depth assessment of his health issues, it added.
His manager and the hospital did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Pele is arguably the greatest footballer of all time.
He burst on to the global scene as a 17-year-old at the 1958 World Cup, helping Brazil to the first of their record five successes.
Injury affected Pele’s contribution to the 1962 and 1966 finals, but he led Brazil to a third triumph, this time in Mexico in 1970 as part of what is widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time.
Brazil‘s leading scorer, with 77 goals in 92 matches for his country, he embodied the idea of football as “the beautiful game”, one played with skill, speed and imagination.
There is much dispute over the number of goals overall he scored during his career, which Guinness World Records puts at 1,279.
However, critics believe that figure is too high, boosted by hundreds scored in friendlies and practice matches.
Including those, he scored at almost a goal a game throughout his 22-year career.
Others put his total at 757 goals, although his main club, Santos, says his tally was closer to 1,000.
In 2013, he was awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur (award of honour) in recognition of his career and achievements.
Man arrested over mass drowning of migrants in English Channel fighting extradition to France
An alleged ringleader of a people smuggling gang, accused of sending more than 30 migrants to their deaths in the English Channel, is fighting extradition to France.
Harem Abwbaker, a UK asylum seeker, is said to have charged the migrants $3,200 (£2,680) each for the trip in November last year.
Appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the 32-year-old was accused of putting them in a badly-designed boat with inadequate navigation or life-saving equipment.
When the boat deflated and sank in darkness two hours after leaving France – and all but two on board drowned – he allegedly offered their relatives money to keep quiet.
French authorities outline allegations
Two migrants survived and identified Abwbaker as the ‘right-hand man’ of the gang’s leader, according to an extradition warrant issued by the French authorities.
The document also claims he personally helped the migrants on to the boat and electronic data showed his mobile phone was at the launch site on the French coast.
The warrant states the migrants were powerless to respond to an emergency, and “had no chance of facing any event at sea,” Prosecutor Michael McHardy told Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Suspect wants to prove ‘innocence’
Abwbaker, a Kurd, was arrested in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday morning. In court he gave his address as the town’s Ramada Hotel.
He sat in the dock in jeans and a grey sweatshirt, scratching his beard during the 30-minute hearing.
Asked if he agreed to be extradited, he said through an interpreter: “If I return now, how can I come back once I’ve proved my innocence? What you’re talking about is my life and my freedom.”
Judge Paul Goldspring said: “It’s clear he’s not consenting.”
It’s previously been reported that 27 bodies were recovered the day after the boat sank and four migrants were still missing.
According to the extradition warrant, the French Navy recovered 25 bodies.
Abwbaker did not ask for bail and was remanded in custody ahead of an extradition hearing in April. He will appear in court again for a preliminary hearing on 29 December.
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