The Ukrainians hanging onto their home that has become Russia's next target

This video contains distressing images

The war appears ever closer to overwhelming the area of Lysychansk where dead bodies are arriving faster than police can bury them, reports ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers in Ukraine

The death of a young French TV journalist, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, in the Lysychansk-Sievierodonetsk area of Ukraine today has again underlined the risks of covering this conflict.

We spent several hours in Lysychansk yesterday, along with colleagues from CNN and another French network. All of us aware that at any moment a shell might land and end everything instantly.

The police who escorted us in, made us fully aware of the dangers, but it really hits home when 24 hours later the worst case scenario is realised.

I can’t imagine the pain and anguish his friends and family must be feeling now.

He was there documenting a pivotal moment in this war, as Russian troops tighten their grip on the eastern side of the river and look to Lysychansk as their next target.

Lysychansk has not quite been seized yet but buildings and homes are being struck at random during artillery duels. Credit: ITV News

Many people have already left. We watched as more were reluctantly boarding buses out of town, unsure if they will ever return.

The journey out, the same as the journey in, involves a life and death gamble along an artillery shooting gallery, where shells land at random and sometimes targeted at passing vehicles.

The road is strewn with cars which didn’t make it.

I understand Frederic was riding in a vehicle evacuating civilians, when he was hit in the neck by shrapnel. The driver was saved by his protective helmet.

Shells sometimes hit vehicles at random down the road heading in and out of Lysychansk. Credit: ITV News

On the edge of Lysychansk is a mass grave with 175 bodies in it, about a third of whom were also killed by razor sharp shards of metal.

It’s too dangerous to hold funerals these days, so they are denied the dignity they deserve in death.

Many of the city's killed citizens have been buried in a mass grave. Credit: ITV News

This war is slowly emptying the city and robbing its citizens of any of the normal rituals of human life. It is a pattern which is repeating across Luhansk and Donetsk.

What the Ukrainians say they need to stop this descent into hell, are longer range artillery weapons which can match or outgun those of the Russians.

Some have already arrived like the American supplied M777 but more are needed if the Russian advance is to be reversed.

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The war is entering a new phase of gruelling artillery duels, in which shells are traded from positions miles apart, the crucial edge being decided by the accuracy and range of the weapons.

Amid this deadly game of back and forth, civilians, mostly the elderly are left to hope they will be spared the worst consequences.

They are already surviving without running water, electricity or gas.

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Many cling to their faith, hoping God will protect them, but there are times when this city feels forsaken by the Almighty. Death is a daily visitor, calling without warning or reason.

It’s tempting to ask why people don’t leave, but I already know the answer, having asked the question dozens of times.

They have no where else to go, and if they leave, they risk losing their property, their possessions and their sense of place, uprooted into the life of a refugee, with all the uncertainties and discomfort that follows.

So they stay, and hope, and pray.