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.
Alongside the way in which, 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 once they picked up seven individuals 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.
Talking from the again of the automobile safely 150 miles west of Sumy, Diyaolu stated she was “relieved” however had blended feelings about leaving pals behind.
“My mom could be very happy however she is on edge and received’t be comfortable till I get dwelling,” stated Diyaolu.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling as a result of it’s simply so disheartening that so many college students are nonetheless trapped.”
The 2 Scottish males have turn into heroes at dwelling 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 weapons pointed to our heads, a tank’s sniper pointed at us, our entrance tyres shot at and our van ransacked, however locals helped us and took us to a storage, acquired us new tyres and confirmed us a again highway to Sumy,” McCarthy stated on Monday.
“After a very good night time’s relaxation, we acquired everybody and left. To be sincere, we had a depressing day yesterday attending to Sumy, however we’re out now and 240km [150 miles] away.
“Our goal right this moment was to get as distant as attainable, keep in a single day in a lodge and get to the border tomorrow.”
Their harmful run got here greater than every week in any case public transport out of Sumy was cancelled, leaving an estimated 1,500 to 1,700 overseas college students stranded. Greater than 700 are Indian pupils, with an estimated 400 from Nigeria.
One pupil interviewed by Indian TV on Friday begged for instant assist, and confirmed they had been working out of meals and water. “Please take some instant motion or else we’ll die for positive,” she stated.
The 2 Scottish males have turn into heroes at dwelling due to the evident dangers they’ve taken after they determined they might not sit idly by and watch the humanitarian disaster unfold on TV.
That they had already accomplished two missions in Ukraine, together with the rescue of a mom and her sick child, once they acquired a request from a lady in Sumy.
McCarthy stated the journey to Sumy, near Russian-controlled territory, was “mission unattainable” however “value it”.
Diyaolu and her Nigerian pals, Roycee Iloielunachi and Anolajuwon Solarin, had been planning to spend Monday night time with the remainder of the group in a single day in a lodge in Kremenchuk, which is below Ukrainian management, earlier than an early begin for the border with Poland, Romania or Moldova.
The Scottish gardeners have been charting their journey on TikTok and Fb stay.
“I’m not going to lie, we might have simply turned again yesterday once we met the Russians. However it was value it – we’ve everybody with us now and bar any disaster we ought to be on the border within the morning,” stated McCarthy.
Diyaolu’s sister Christiana in Carlow stated she was “past grateful” that her sister was on the way in which to security.
Regardless of their terrifying brush with the Russians, McCarthy and Taylor say they intend to return to Ukraine – with greater than a dozen requests excellent.