Several civilians, including women and children, were evacuated from Ukraine’s last stronghold after a night of heavy Russian attacks.
Russian state media and a Ukrainian soldier said several people were evacuated from a steel plant in the city of Mariupol, including women and children.
Russia’s RIA Novosti reported on Saturday that 25 civilians had been removed from the Azovstal steel plant, Ukraine’s last stronghold in the bombed-out ruins of Mariupol.
The news agency said the group included 19 adults and six children, but did not give further details.
A top official with the Azov Battalion, the Ukrainian unit that protects the plant, said 20 civilians were evacuated during the ceasefire, although it was unclear if he was referring to the same group as reported. Russian or not.
“Twenty civilians, women and children… have been moved to a suitable place and we hope that they will be evacuated to Zaporizhzhia, in the territory controlled by Ukraine,” Sviatoslav Palamar said in a video. posted on the battalion’s Telegram channel.
He said warplanes were still slicing through the wreckage looking for civilians to rescue.
“Throughout the night, enemy artillery shelled this area,” he said.
“The Azov Regiment is still clearing the rubble to get the civilians out. We hope this procedure will continue and we will manage to evacuate all civilians. ”
There is no confirmation from the United Nations about the evacuation. The global agency tried to broker an evacuation of civilians from the plant, the only part of Mariupol in the hands of the Ukrainian military.
An estimated 1,000 civilians and several hundred Ukrainian soldiers are believed to be sheltering in the labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath the steel mills. Many of them require medical attention.
Call for evacuation of fighter aircraft
Video and photos from inside the factory, shared with the Associated Press by two Ukrainian women, who said their husbands were among the fighters who refused to surrender there, show the men. unidentified man with dyed bandages; others have open wounds or have had their limbs amputated.
The women who identified their husbands as members of the Azov Regiment said a medic was treating at least 600 wounded. They said that some of the wounds were rotting and gangrene.
In the video, the men say they ate only once a day and shared at least 1.5 liters (50 ounces) of water a day among four people, and that supplies inside the besieged facility were exhausted. .
A topless man looked in pain as he described his injuries: two broken ribs, a punctured lung and a dislocated arm “hanging from the flesh”.
“I want to say to everyone who sees this: If you don’t stop this here, in Ukraine, it will go further, to Europe,” he said.
The women told the AP the video was filmed last week in the maze of corridors and bunkers below the factory.
They called on Ukrainian fighters to be evacuated along with civilians, warning them they could be tortured and executed if caught.
Yuliia Fedusiuk told AP in Rome: “Soldiers’ lives are also important.
Saviano Abreu, a spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian office, said the world organization was in talks with authorities in Moscow and Kyiv, but he could not provide details on the ongoing evacuation effort “because complexity and fluidity of the activity.”
“Right now, there are high-level commitments going on with all the governments, Russia and Ukraine, to make sure that you can save civilians and support the evacuation of civilians from the factory,” Abreu told AP. “.
He will not endorse a video posted on social media purporting to show United Nations-branded vehicles in Mariupol.
Ukraine has blamed the failure of many previous evacuation efforts on continued Russian shelling.
The latest satellite images by US-based Maxar Technologies, taken on Friday, show that nearly all of the buildings at the steelworks have been destroyed.
Some roofs have been hewn or completely, some buildings become ruins.