Wed, 22 March 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Mariupol civilians evacuated from steelworks bunker

Update : 02 May 2022, 09:18

Dozens of civilians have been evacuated from Mariupol to both Russia-controlled and Ukraine-controlled territory after weeks under siege.

Some have left the Azovstal steelworks, the last hold-out of Ukrainian troops in the strategically significant city.

Russia said dozens of civilians have arrived in a village it controls.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a large group is also on its way to Zaporizhzhia, which Ukraine maintains control of.

"The first group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area," he tweeted. "Tomorrow [Monday} we'll meet them in Zaporizhzhia. Grateful to our team! Now they, together with UN, are working on the evacuation of other civilians from the plant."

The United Nations confirmed that a "safe passage operation" had begun to evacuate the citizens on Saturday, and that it was involved alongside the Red Cross.

The evacuation convoy arrived on Saturday morning, the UN said - but did not give details on where people were being taken or how many had left, saying that sharing details could jeopardise the safety of the operation.

Reuters footage from the complex show civilians - mainly women and children - being helped to walk over piles of rubble, and boarding a bus with missing windows.

One woman with a six-month-old baby said they had been trapped in the steelworks for two months. Another, older woman says they were running out of food.

Ukrainian officials said Russian shelling resumed on the steel plant after Sunday's brief ceasefire.

While dozens have been rescued, several hundred civilians - including children - are still in the bunkers, Denys Shleha of Ukraine's National Guard was quoted by Reuters as saying on Sunday. He added that at least two more evacuation efforts like this will be needed to get everyone out.

One of the evacuees to Russian-held territory told Reuters news agency: "You just can't imagine what we have been through - the terror."

"I feared that the bunker would not withstand it - I had terrible fear," 37-year-old Natalia Usmanova said. "When the bunker started to shake, I was hysterical, my husband can vouch for that: I was so worried the bunker would cave in."

"We didn't see the sun for so long."

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