Subways as Shelters

Subways in Kyiv and Kharkiv are performing as bomb shelters, including the world's deepest station, after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Wednesday night.

2 minute read

February 27, 2022, 5:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

New York Subway Stairs / Pexels

"As Russian forces launched several missiles at the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv the night of Feb. 23, thousands of citizens hunkered down in subway stations," writes Camille Squires, a global cities reporter for Quartz.

On Thursday, Feb. 24, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko imposed a curfew and halted public transit so that subway stations could be used as round-the-clock shelters.

Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion, had announced late last month that the subway would be the capital city's "key shelter", wrote breaking news reporter Jake Epstein for Business Insider on January 26.

"The key bomb shelter in the city of Kyiv will also be the Kyiv subway, which, in the event of — God forbid — zero hour, will be ready to accommodate people who can take shelter in case of a possible attack," Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in an interview with the Current Time television network on Tuesday.  

The Kyiv Metro, initially 5 stations and 3.25 miles, opened in 1960 as Ukraine's first rapid transit system. "The Arsenalna Metro Station ... lies nearly 350 feet beneath the city, making it the deepest station in the world," according to Atlas Obscura.

Residents of Kyiv, the nation's most populous city with nearly 3 million people, were not the only urban residents seeking shelter in their city's metro system, wrote BuzzFeed News reporter Clarissa-Jan Lim on Feb. 24.

Crowds swelled in subway stations in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. Its mayor, Ihor Terekhov, was himself sheltering in a subway station.

He told residents to seek cover. "The subway is the safest place," he said.

The Kharkiv Metro opened in 1975 and is the second of four systems in Ukraine, a nation of over 43 million people that claimed independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

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