Spot report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), 7 November 2014: shelling and fatalities in Donetsk
This report is for media and the general public.
On 5 November, at 18:02hrs, a Ukrainian military representative from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in Debaltseve informed the SMM about shelling and fatalities on Stepanenko Street, three kilometres north-west of the city centre of Donetsk. On 6 and 7 November the SMM visited the site of the reported incident, where it identified ten craters. Nearby shelling forced the SMM to leave the area.
On 6 November 2014, at 8:25 hrs, the SMM arrived at School No. 63 on Stepanenko Street, Donetsk, about three kilometres north-west of the city centre. The SMM saw a football pitch on the east side of the school, enclosed by steel mesh fencing; shrapnel damage to the pitch, fencing and goal posts; and, on the northern edge of the pitch, one metre from the fence, a shell crater, which was one metre in diameter.
The SMM saw human remains scattered around the pitch, including bone fragments, blood and internal organs. Blood-stained clothing was also visible, which appeared to have been torn by shrapnel.
The SMM also noted a crater in the playground, near the eastern wall. Access to the school building itself was not possible as it was locked.
The SMM spoke to a number of people present in the area who said that on the previous day two children had been killed by an artillery shell; and four children and an adult had been seriously wounded. They said they did not know any further details about the victims.
One man interviewed by the SMM said that he had been undertaking repairs in the school building at the time of the shelling. He said that it occurred on 5 November at 15:30 hrs, and counted eight explosions. According to him the first two occurred in quick succession. The other six occurred within five minutes of the first.
People living nearby told the SMM that there were a number of other casualties in the area. The SMM saw one woman who was leaving Stepanenko Street 14a with shrapnel wounds to her legs, who said she was being taken to hospital. The SMM observed that there was extensive damage to the apartment building and its windows. The SMM saw three craters near the building.
The SMM saw three other craters on nearby Myrhorodska Street. The SMM observed damage to a number of houses near these craters.
The SMM saw two other craters on Shvernik Street. Residents indicated that a number of local people had also been injured but they were unwilling to give names so it was not possible to identify or locate any casualties.
All craters seen by the SMM were about one metre in diameter and the depths varied. The SMM’s analysis indicates that at least four of the craters were caused by 120mm mortar shells and two others were the result of 122mm artillery rounds. In the SMM’s assessment, all of these were fired from a location north-west of the football pitch and were the result of high-angle fire.
At 09:25, the shelling obliged the SMM to leave the area. The SMM heard loud explosions about two kilometres away to the south-west.
The SMM then went to the Donetsk regional trauma hospital to seek more information about the reported casualties. One of the doctors said that on 5 November three male children (aged 11, 16, and 17) and one male adult (aged 21) had been admitted to hospital with serious trauma wounds. The doctor described serious trauma injuries to these patients, including extensive leg wounds, including fractures; chest wounds and injuries to reproductive organs. An adult male had been treated and discharged. The doctor was unable to confirm whether his patients’ injuries were life-threatening but said that the wounds had been badly contaminated with soil and other debris. He was unable to identify the two fatalities and stated the remains had been taken to a forensic medical centre in Kalinin Hospital in Donetsk.
According to the doctor all those wounded had been admitted between 16:10 and 16:20 hrs on 5 November. This corroborated the chronology for the time of the shelling provided by local residents.
The SMM is unaware at this stage of the JCCC’s own response to this incident.