'The blast threw me into the wall': Mykolaiv residents describe nightly Russian missile strikes
Three minutes past four in the morning: we just heard an explosion.
The air alarm went off four minutes later. A few more minutes, and more explosions come, closer.
In the hotel, not far from Mykolaiv city centre, some guests decided to hide underground. The shelter is a walking distance away, but a relatively short one.
Air raid alarms often go off but there is nowhere else to hide in the area nearby.
The makeshift refuge is essentially used for underground storage and a technical room turned shelter in the restaurant nearby. It feels like its main purpose is to give the residents some idea of safety.
Mykolaiv, in the south of Ukraine, is located less than 100 kilometres from Russian-occupied Kherson. At night, its inhabitants are forced to head for shelter when Russian missiles strike.
Explosions in the city ring out loud every night now. More often in the centre, but also in the sleepy suburban areas. Among the spots that have been hit by the missiles are apartment blocks, clinics, a theatre, a bus stop.
After a while, the residents walk back to the hotel amid darkness and silence.
News about a residential building hit by one of the missiles reaches local social media channels half an hour later.
By 5.30 a.m., the air alarm has stopped. The city is in total darkness, not a single car is passing by, and not a single window light is on.
But not for long. As morning comes, life continues here, although it resembles little of what it was before the war.
Emergency services are working in a building that was hit during the night. At first it was thought that all the residents had survived. That was before the body of a young woman was pulled out from under the destroyed section.
Dmytro came to check on his aunt's apartment, empty as she left Mykolaiv some months ago.
"It’s relatively ok in the apartment…. Some problems with the ceiling, no windows, the doors are blown out too," he says, adding however that there's no chance it can be restored.
"Oh no, no, it’s gone. It’s unreal to live here now," he says.