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Ukrainians are shell-shocked and taking shelter, but not giving in to Russia's invasion

As bombs fall, Ukrainians shelter in bunkers
Ukrainians flee their homes and hide underground hoping for safe haven from Russian attacks 02:46

Near Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine — The war in Ukraine is taking a devastating toll on the country's civilians. Just 48 hours ago, they could not have imagined what they'd be forced to endure. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams said the mayor of the country's second largest city warned citizens to seek shelter as Kharkiv became the focus of a fierce fight between Russian forces and Ukrainians trying to defend it.

Russia claims it isn't targeting civilians, but Ukrainian officials said a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the town of Chuhuiv, just outside Kharkiv, killing a teenage boy and injuring 15 residents.

"My house is completely destroyed," said Olena Kurilo. "I must have a guardian angel to still be alive."

A wounded woman stands outside a hospital after the bombing of the eastern Ukraine town of Chuhuiv, February 24, 2022, as Russian armed forces invade Ukraine. ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty

On Thursday night, an exhausted looking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of aiming at civilians, and he said he and his own young family were the top targets. Officials say Zelensky remains in Ukraine, but they won't say where.

The outskirts of Kharkiv, which sits just 20 miles from the Russian border, have been pummeled, leaving 23 civilians dead, according to Ukraine.

But Russia is also taking losses. Images posted online show one soldier who was said to have been killed by Ukrainian forces on the edge of Kharkiv. Other Russian troops have reportedly been captured.

Williams and her team found trains in Kharkiv's underground subway system stopped and stations crowded with people taking cover from Russian airstrikes.  

Russia closes in on Kyiv with more explosions reported across Ukraine overnight 13:32

Like many Ukrainians, Marina Omelyanenko told CBS News that her country was being held hostage to Vladimir Putin's dream of recreating the Soviet empire.

"We are an independent country, and we will stay an independent country," she said.

In the city of Mariupol, in the far southeast of Ukraine, many people spent Thursday night in basements and bomb shelters.

"I woke up because of the big boom," said one little girl. "I understood it was the war."

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