One of the men killed by a missile that hit a southeastern Polish village this week was buried on Saturday, the first of two funerals this weekend following a blast that raised fears that the war in Ukraine could spiral into a wider conflict.
Poland and other Western states have said the missile that landed in Przewodow, a village near the border with Ukraine, was a Ukrainian air defence missile that went astray in pursuit of a Russian missile.
Kyiv cast doubt on this version and has demanded access to the site and a role in the investigation into the cause of the explosion.
For the village itself, the blast plunged residents into mourning for two of their neighbours.
“It is sad for the family and the community,” said 67-year-old retired mechanic Ryszard Turczanik as he made his way towards the church. “Everybody is in deep sadness and we are going on this final road.”
Ahead of the funeral, local priest Bogdan Wazny described the victims as “very kind people”. Villagers told Reuters of how they had helped Ukrainian refugees.
Television footage showed the funeral procession making its way to the cemetery, with a military band marching ahead of the hearse and soldiers carrying wreaths and a picture of the deceased man. A light covering of snow lay on the ground.
The man buried on Saturday, named in most Polish media only as 62-year-old Boguslaw W., was working at a grain-drying facility in the village when the missile struck. Most media outlets have not published the victims’ surnames out of consideration for their families.
The funeral of the second victim, 60-year-old Bogdan C., will take place on Sunday.
While the people of Przewodow were deeply shaken by the tragedy, the mayor of the municipality in which the village is located stressed the resilience of local people.
“We really are a tough community,” Grzegorz Drewnik said on Friday.
“We learned that we live under stress, we know that we live close to the border with Ukraine. We must be prepared for various inconveniences and stressful situations. We will endure it.”
Warsaw, Kyiv and their Western allies have said that ultimate responsibility for the explosion lies with Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February and has been pounding Ukrainian energy facilities with missiles.