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Photos: The emotional scenes as the 1st train from Kyiv arrives in liberated Kherson

Oksana Shevliuha, 51, wears a Ukrainian flag as she greets her daughter, Anastasia, who arrived on the first train to reach liberated Kherson on Saturday. They had not seen each other for six months. The first Ukrainian Railways train arrived in Kherson following a Russian occupation that lasted more than eight months.
Carol Guzy for NPR
Oksana Shevliuha, 51, wears a Ukrainian flag as she greets her daughter, Anastasia, who arrived on the first train to reach liberated Kherson on Saturday. They had not seen each other for six months. The first Ukrainian Railways train arrived in Kherson following a Russian occupation that lasted more than eight months.

As Ukraine's nine-month war grinds on, the arrival of Ukrzaliznytsia, the national railway, has become synonymous with liberation in previously Russian-occupied cities and towns.

When Ukrainian forces recapture areas from Russia, residents have come to expect a few immediate things: seeing the Ukrainian flag raised over administration buildings or other landmarks, the arrival of badly needed medicine, food and generators, perhaps the installation of a temporary cell tower.

But the most powerful sign of liberation is when a Ukrainian Railways train pulls into town.

So when Kherson, liberated nearly two weeks ago from eight months of brutal Russian occupation, greeted its first passenger train from Kyiv on Saturday, it was a moment to celebrate.

Family members who'd been separated for months poured out onto the platform and embraced their loved ones in tearful, joyful reunions. Passengers gawked as they took in the destruction left in the wake of Russia's occupation.

Here are some scenes from that day.

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A Ukrainian Railways train operator in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, prepares the train for the first trip to recently liberated Kherson on Saturday.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
A Ukrainian Railways train operator in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, prepares the train for the first trip to recently liberated Kherson on Saturday.
People greet each other on the platform as a train bound for Kherson makes a stop in Mykolaiv on Saturday.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
People greet each other on the platform as a train bound for Kherson makes a stop in Mykolaiv on Saturday.
Ukrainian Railways staff prepare for departure from Mykolaiv on the train headed to Kherson. The train was fitted with improvised armor and pushed empty cars ahead of it as precautionary measures.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
Ukrainian Railways staff prepare for departure from Mykolaiv on the train headed to Kherson. The train was fitted with improvised armor and pushed empty cars ahead of it as precautionary measures.
Passengers ride the first Ukrainian Railways train to recently liberated Kherson on Saturday.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
Passengers ride the first Ukrainian Railways train to recently liberated Kherson on Saturday.
Ukrainian Railways employee Halyna Rospodnyuk eats a breakfast of traditional Ukrainian salo (cured pork fat) sandwiches on the train.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
Ukrainian Railways employee Halyna Rospodnyuk eats a breakfast of traditional Ukrainian salo (cured pork fat) sandwiches on the train.
Passengers film ammunition boxes and other evidence of war from the train.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
Passengers film ammunition boxes and other evidence of war from the train.
People play with their cat on the train.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
People play with their cat on the train.
A woman waves to the train.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
A woman waves to the train.
Left: Mykola Desyatnikov, 56, holds a rose as he waits for his wife Lyudmila, whom he has not seen for four months, as she arrives on the first train to reach Kherson after the end of Russian occupation. Right: Desyatnikov runs alongside the train as it arrives.
/ Left: Carol Guzy, Right: Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Left: Carol Guzy, Right: Pete Kiehart for NPR
Left: Mykola Desyatnikov, 56, holds a rose as he waits for his wife Lyudmila, whom he has not seen for four months, as she arrives on the first train to reach Kherson after the end of Russian occupation. Right: Desyatnikov runs alongside the train as it arrives.
A man photographs the train and people line the bridge above as the train arrives in Kherson on Saturday. Some of the train cars had been decorated by Ukrainian artists.
/ Carol Guzy for NPR
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Carol Guzy for NPR
A man photographs the train and people line the bridge above as the train arrives in Kherson on Saturday. Some of the train cars had been decorated by Ukrainian artists.
Liudmyla, center, wipes her eyes and welcomes her granddaughter, Ania, who arrived Saturday on the first Ukrainian Railways train to reach liberated Kherson.
/ Carol Guzy for NPR
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Carol Guzy for NPR
Liudmyla, center, wipes her eyes and welcomes her granddaughter, Ania, who arrived Saturday on the first Ukrainian Railways train to reach liberated Kherson.
People pose for photos with Ukrainian singer Kolya Serga (right) on the train platform.
/ Carol Guzy for NPR
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Carol Guzy for NPR
People pose for photos with Ukrainian singer Kolya Serga (right) on the train platform.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, CEO of Ukrainian Railways, walks through the Kherson railway station after the first passenger train in nine months arrived on Saturday. For now, basic services including water, heat and connectivity remain essentially nonexistent in the city.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
Oleksandr Kamyshin, CEO of Ukrainian Railways, walks through the Kherson railway station after the first passenger train in nine months arrived on Saturday. For now, basic services including water, heat and connectivity remain essentially nonexistent in the city.
People use one of the train station halls in Kherson as a charging station for their phones and other devices. Basic services including water, heat and internet connectivity are essentially nonexistent in the city.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
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Pete Kiehart for NPR
People use one of the train station halls in Kherson as a charging station for their phones and other devices. Basic services including water, heat and internet connectivity are essentially nonexistent in the city.
Soldiers sign a child's Ukrainian flag at the train station in Kherson.
/ Carol Guzy for NPR
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Carol Guzy for NPR
Soldiers sign a child's Ukrainian flag at the train station in Kherson.
Elena weeps as she listens to Ukrainian musical performers after the first train arrives in Kherson on Saturday.
/ Carol Guzy for NPR
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Carol Guzy for NPR
Elena weeps as she listens to Ukrainian musical performers after the first train arrives in Kherson on Saturday.
The first train launched by Ukrainian Railways from Kyiv to Kherson after its arrival in the recently liberated city on Saturday.
/ Carol Guzy for NPR
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Carol Guzy for NPR
The first train launched by Ukrainian Railways from Kyiv to Kherson after its arrival in the recently liberated city on Saturday.

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