KYIV, Ukraine -- Evacuate now or face the misery of a Russian onslaught as winter approaches: That is the blunt warning that Ukraine delivered to the hundreds of thousands of civilians still left in Donetsk, the eastern province that is now the heart of the country's fight for survival.
The choice is made simpler by every thud of a Russian shell. The prospect of giving up on their homes is inconceivable for some people.
Lyudmyla Bogomolova was born and raised in the tiny village of Pavlivka, just miles away from what are now the front lines of the battles in the Ukrainian industrial heartland of the east.
Since Russia invaded in February, math teacher has been helping with humanitarian aid to those in need in her village. The shelling has become hard to bear with Moscow s focus on a push to take full control of her home province.
Bogomolova, 51, and her husband, Mykola, first thought about leaving last month, she told NBC News on the phone.
She said it was becoming impossible to stay because of heavy shelling, her voice filled with sadness and worry. The deep fear didn't go away. On July 24, a rocket attack on their village left Mykola, 54, began on July 24, with the bone and joint completely crushed in his left hand, Bogomolova said. Their minds were made up.
She said we'll leave as soon as possible.
Bogomolova, who is currently in Kurakhove where Mykola is being treated for his injuries, is one of the more than 200,000 people in Donetsk that the Ukrainian government hopes to get out, while there is still time.