Investigators began the grim task of exhuming bodies from a mass grave while assessing evidence of war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine recently liberated from invading Russian troops in the spring of 2022. Death was everywhere.
Wreckage of war and bodies littered the streets of Bucha, Ukraine recently liberated from invading Russian troops as investigators began the grim task of exhuming bodies from a mass grave behind the Church of St. Andrew and All Saints, while assessing evidence of war crimes in April 2022. Death was everywhere.
The ghostly sight of hands and legs protrude from the earth. Volunteer gravediggers use a door and crane to lift corpses from the ground where they were stacked together. One rises with the surreal resemblance to a crucifix. Some had signs of torture and hands tied or shot in the head. Civilians. Elderly, women, children. Bucha has become synonymous with the atrocities of this invasion. Russia has been accused of waging a war of terrorism on the vulnerable.
To date there are 24,425 civilian casualties: 8,983 killed and 15,442 injured as reported by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Desperate families gather while trying to identify their loved ones. Pain is etched on their faces as they recognize the lifeless form as their own.
Every corpse is painstakingly examined at a nearby cemetery and forensics are recorded. Eyes of death stare from a body bag begging the question what was his final sight before life ended?
Many sorrowful funerals are held for the fallen. Wails of weeping loved ones echo throughout the land. Soldiers are not the only casualties of this conflict as its toll reaches far from the frontline and families bury their dead, dealing with the tragic aftershocks of loss. Birds fly past a war-damaged tombstone as a mother weeps at her son’s gravesite after countless days of searching for his body. ‘He’s in the sky,’ she cries, feeling a small shred of bittersweet peace that he is finally at rest.
“I have no tears left,” said Natalia Bogdanov after her husband's burial as she walked away from the cemetery lined with freshly dug plots awaiting the dead.