A BOLTON man living in Ukraine has been on a dangerous mission to get his family to safety after Russian troops surrounded their city.

Chris James Balshaw, originally from Horwich but now living in Ukraine, has been on the run with wife Kate and children Michael and Sophie.

Kherson, where they now live, is completely surrounded by Russian forces and they were left stuck in an underground car park beneath their flat for four days.

Chris is now in nearby Moldova but has been told he can only stay where they are for a few days before being forced to move on. But with no access to money or supplies, there is little the family can do.

He said: “We don’t know where we are going next, but right now we’re in a refugee camp in Moldova. The bombing started in Odessa on the 24th so we were living in an underground car park since then with hardly any food.

“The embassy said they couldn’t help, that we were on our own trying to get to the Polish border. A lot of people are being killed, families and kids are being shot here. It’s horrible.”

Former chef Chris has not been back in Bolton since he was 16. He moved to Spain, then Egypt, where he met his wife Kate, a psychologist, before settling down in Ukraine.

He said: "We were sleeping when the bombs went off at 4am. My wife woke us up and we got our emergency bags and ran down to the underground car park.

He says a family with a little girl trying to escape were shot and killed.

Chris added: “We were in shock and just in survival mode. Kids were crying and people panicking, the situation is terrible.

The family was forced to sleep in their car in temperatures of minus four degrees.

Chris said: "We have people in Ukraine working for Russia, so they mark out places for the air strikes.

"If they get caught, they’re arrested. We were supposed to go to another border first, but the cab driver told us shooting had started there so we had to turn around.

Kate said: “All my relatives are still there and I just don’t have words to explain the pain. My mum, my uncle and his kids, they’re stuck there.

"Surrounded by the Russian army, they’re in the bathroom and have no food or anything left.

“I can’t even get through to them now. My mum got to the border but is stuck there in a queue.”

The family has no money accessible but will be setting up a fundraising page in coming days.