Two Scottish gardeners have rescued three college students – one Irish and two Nigerian – who had been trapped within the wartorn metropolis of Sumy within the north-east of Ukraine.
Along the best way, the lads had been held at gunpoint by Russian troopers – however had been then rescued themselves by locals.
Joe McCarthy, 55, and Gary Taylor, 45, who run Ready2Rock landscaping in Falkirk, made their evacuation sprint on Monday morning after they picked up seven folks together with 4 Ukrainians.
The seven included 19-year-old medical pupil Racheal Diyaolu from County Carlow, two Nigerian college students, an aged Ukrainian couple and a younger mom and her son.
Speaking from the again of the automotive safely 150 miles west of Sumy, Diyaolu stated she was “relieved” however had blended feelings about leaving pals behind.
“My mother is very pleased but she is on edge and won’t be happy until I get home,” stated Diyaolu.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling because it is just so disheartening that so many students are still trapped.”
The two Scottish males have turn out to be heroes at house after placing their very own lives in danger by going to Sumy, which is simply 25 miles from the Russian border and has been out of attain of any worldwide rescue mission.
“We had guns pointed to our heads, a tank’s sniper pointed at us, our front tyres shot at and our van ransacked, but locals helped us and took us to a garage, got us new tyres and showed us a back road to Sumy,” McCarthy advised the Guardian on Monday.
“After a good night’s rest, we got everyone and left. To be honest, we had a miserable day yesterday getting to Sumy, but we are out now and 240km [150 miles] away.
“Our objective today was to get as far away as possible, stay overnight in a hotel and get to the border tomorrow.”
Their harmful run got here greater than per week in any case public transport out of Sumy was cancelled, leaving an estimated 1,500 to 1,700 overseas college students stranded. More than 700 are Indian pupils, with an estimated 400 from Nigeria.
One pupil interviewed by Indian TV on Friday begged for quick assist, and confirmed they had been working out of meals and water. “Please take some immediate action or else we will die for sure,” she stated.
The two Scottish males have turn out to be heroes at house due to the evident dangers they’ve taken after they determined they may not sit idly by and watch the humanitarian disaster unfold on TV.
They had already accomplished two missions in Ukraine, together with the rescue of a mom and her sick child, after they obtained a request from a girl in Sumy.
McCarthy stated the journey to Sumy, near Russian-controlled territory, was “mission impossible” however “worth it”.
Diyaolu and her Nigerian pals, Roycee Iloielunachi and Anolajuwon Solarin, had been planning to spend Monday evening with the remainder of the group in a single day in a resort in Kremenchuk, which is underneath Ukrainian management, earlier than an early begin for the border with Poland, Romania or Moldova.
The Scottish gardeners have been charting their journey on TikTookay and Facebook dwell.
“I’m not going to lie, we could have just turned back yesterday when we met the Russians. But it was worth it – we have everyone with us now and bar any catastrophe we should be at the border in the morning,” stated McCarthy.
Diyaolu’s sister Christiana in Carlow stated she was “beyond grateful” that her sister was on the best way to security.
Despite their terrifying brush with the Russians, McCarthy and Taylor say they intend to return to Ukraine – with greater than a dozen requests excellent.