Residents of Donetsk wake to the sound of shelling.
Donetsk, Ukraine
© AP/Scanpix

Most are taking no chances when it come to their safety, seeking shelter in a basement near the city centre.

"We are hiding from the bombs. Why are we here? Shells are flying over our heads, here and there. People are dying. How many people from Donetsk have already died? It's horrible," a resident of Donetsk tells Reuters.

And while residents hide below ground, the battle for control of Donetsk above ground continues, with Ukrainian forces claiming significant gains over pro-Russian separatists.

Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko says the army is now ready to retake Donetsk and the city of Luhansk: "We also once again call on civilians to urgently leave those cities (Donetsk and Luhansk), if possible, because an operation will be held there to liberate those cities and kill the terrorists."

Heavy guns boomed throughout the night. One shell hit this high-security prison on the outskirts of Donetsk late Sunday, killing one inmate, injuring 3 others, and allowing more than 100 to escape.

Some inmates returned, but these Donetsk residents are unlikely to be returning to their homes until it's safe to do so.

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