'It was hell:' Families split apart as refugees flee besieged Ukrainian city of Irpin

From elderly people struggling to walk let alone flee to babies, Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo spoke to those leaving everything behind as they flee invading Russian forces

Across Ukraine, ordinary people are fleeing their homes amid Russia's deadly invasion. ITV News has witnessed desperate scenes, as people try to escape the fighting near Kyiv - knowing all the time that they too could be targeted.

Irpin is a city on the outskirts of Ukraine's capital. Its main bridge over a river of the same name has been destroyed, making escape all the more difficult. Our Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo filmed with families, and young and old alike, as they fled for their lives. They are running out of time to leave before they become trapped by advancing Russian forces. And there have been emotional goodbyes with their loved ones who are deciding to stay and fight.

As the latest group of evacuees from besieged Irpin files past us - some with just a carrier bag of belongings, one pushing his worldly possessions in a wheelbarrow - an elderly woman emerges.

She cannot run like the others - she can barely walk - so she is left behind as the crowd of people who crossed the river to safety with her race for the buses destined for Kyiv railway station a few hundred metres ahead of her.She is alone, using a walking stick and clutching the railings for support.

Her walk, step by fragile step, can hardly be described as a dash for safety.

An elderly women struggles to keep up as other evacuees stream past in the rush to safer ground

But it is no less desperate.After last night’s bombardment she had to escape, even though her children stayed behind.

“It was scary. It was hell. Proper hell. We didn’t think of leaving, there is no electricity, there is no gas, there is no water,” she tells me, speaking through a translator.

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She is making the perilous journey alone, knowing that to stay with her family in the town she has always called home would have been far more dangerous.

“My family is back there, in that hell,” she says, referring to the group of towns near Irpin which are now in the path of Russia’s advance on Kyiv.

"In Bucha, in Hostomel, we can’t reach them. We don’t even know whether they’re dead or alive.”She emerged from underneath the ruins of what was until a few days ago a bridge.

It was blown up by Ukrainian soldiers attempting to slow Russia’s advance to the capital, Kyiv.

A man opens his arms as he stands near a house destroyed in the Russian artillery shelling in the village of Horenka, close to Kyiv. Credit: AP

For a few hours its shell provided a grim shelter for the town’s escaping residents from the unceasing sound of shelling and gunfire.

About 2,000 civilians have so far been evacuated from the town, police said earlier today.Ahead of them is a row of yellow buses to ferry them into the city and, eventually, onto trains to western Ukraine, far from the Russian border.

A Ukrainian dad says he is going to take his children to Kyiv railway station- then return to defend Ukraine against Russian forces

They will take a similar route into town to the one the Russian military intends to take.Among the people waiting to board the bus, Liubov sits trembling.

A grandmother with children who have served in the military, she never thought she would see the sort of conflict she has heard described at family gatherings in her own town.

Evacuees agonise before boarding a bus to Kyiv, along the same route Russian troops want to take. Credit: ITV News

“One family from my town tried to leave but they were shot," she said.

"Two of their children were injured and taken to hospital but the doctors weren’t hopeful. I don’t know if they survived. What did those kids do to deserve this?”She is carrying three bags, she may never see her other possessions.

“We’ve had to leave everything behind because we were being bombed. For 11 nights, we haven’t slept, we haven’t eaten.

"The whole wide world is watching this, I address everyone: why are you just watching what’s happening now, we’re being shot, killed, our cities and villages, our houses are being destroyed. This is unbearable.”

Emotional goodbyes as evacuees near Kyiv's central station head west. Credit: ITV News

We reach Kyiv’s train station where many of the people of Irpin are together again, preparing to leave for different locations across Ukraine.

There are many tears shed.

This is an agonising moment. But many know that the greatest agony might be that endured by those they have left behind.