Missile Strike in Ukraine Leaves 7-Year-Old Boy Motherless, Severely Burned

·3 min read
Missile Strike in Ukraine Leaves 7-Year-Old Boy Motherless, Severely Burned

A 7-year-old Ukrainian boy who suffered burns on nearly half his body from a Russian missile strike earlier this month is still recovering. He was accompanied by his mother in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia when they were tragically struck.

A Facebook post by Yaroslav Oleksiv identified his son, Roman, as the boy who narrowly survived, and shared that Roman's mother, Galyna Oleksiv, was one of at least 23 people killed in the July 14 attack.

Yaroslav discussed the brutal attack in an interview with Current Time, saying "the explosion threw [Roman's] body and that ended up saving him," and that he was fortunately picked up by an ambulance "immediately."

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Roman and Galyna Oleksiv Ukranian mother killed, son badly injured
Roman and Galyna Oleksiv Ukranian mother killed, son badly injured

Yaroslav Oleksiv/Facebook Roman and Galyna Oleksiv

Roman's father said his son was conscious at the time following the blast and was able to repeat his name. Roman had told the people helping him that he was with his mother when the missile struck and that she was underneath the rubble.

She was declared dead after conducting a DNA test, Roman's father confirmed.

He continued by saying that doctors had partially identified Galyna after discovering fabric with writing on it. He said they knew she "had a T-shirt like that," and that they were also able to confirm it was her based on the braces she wore.

"All the bodies they found from this shock wave, they were all badly burned … many had their limbs ripped off. None of the bodies remained fully intact," Yaroslav recalled in a heart-wrenching and gruesome depiction of the attack.

Roman Oleksiv
Roman Oleksiv

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Roman has undergone — and continues to undergo — substantial medical treatment for his burns. In a Facebook post by the Medical Association of Lviv, it states that roughly 45% of his body is covered in external burns and that another 35% of his body is burned internally.

Photos show the 7-year-old's body almost completely covered in gauze and medical supply. His head is entirely wrapped besides his eyes, nose and mouth, and his lower body is wrapped from the belly button on down, as well as both of his arms.

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Roman was initially being treated in a hospital in Lviv, but has been transferred to a hospital in Germany for further evaluations and operations, including skin grafts and plastic surgery.

The July 14 strike was called "an open act of terrorism" against civilians by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy. Reuters has confirmed that several children were among those killed in the attack, and more than 90 people were injured overall.

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The strike has been perceived by the international community as one of the most savage and barbaric since Russia's invasion of sovereign Ukraine began in late February. Putin's intentions for the war have flabbergasted governments around the world, and recent attacks on civilians and civilian structures have only intensified concerns about Putin's true ambitions.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.