'It feels like a film': Husband-to-be stuck in Ukraine after travelling to plan wedding
A man born in the North East has described his failed attempts to return to the UK after becoming stranded in war-torn Ukraine.
Karl Alexander, 57, travelled to Kramatorsk in the east of the invaded state last week to plan his wedding to Ukrainian fiancée Eelena Dudchenko.
But when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full invasion, conventional exit routes back to the UK were shut off.
Speaking to ITV Tyne Tees, Karl explained what it's like to hear bombs fall on a city which was at peace just a few days ago.
"I can hear it happening outside," he said. "Still feels a bit surreal for me, like a film. My fiancée has been quite strong."
Karl has been with fiancée Eelana for roughly a year and she recently received her UK visa.
Although the couple say they are remaining calm, Eelana is worried about her family and the lack of information they are receiving.
On Thursday, the day the full-scale invasion began, Karl queued for two hours to withdraw money.
He fears shops will soon run out of food and says Kramatorsk has become a "ghost town".
With flights and trains cancelled, and crossing the country by car considered too dangerous, Karl does not expect to return to the UK and his three children any time soon.
"I have three children, two in their 20s and one who is 14, and the 14-year-old is struggling quite a bit," he said.
"He’s seen it on TV and now there’s bombing, so I’m making a big effort to keep in touch but the communication is a bit patchy.
"They just want me home. It’s one of their birthdays on Sunday.”