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Civilians trapped in the Mariupol Steel Plant for almost two months were evacuated

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After a siege of almost two months, the evacuation of civilians holed up in a steelworks in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol began over the weekend.

Local officials said people taking shelter elsewhere in the besieged city were allowed to leave on Monday.

Video posted online by Ukrainian forces on Sunday showed elderly women and mothers with young children climbing a steep heap of rubble from the rubble of the sprawling Azovstal Steelworks and finally boarding a bus.

More than 100 civilians were expected to arrive in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhia on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday.

“Today, for the first time in all days of the war, this much-needed (humanitarian) corridor started its work,” Zelensky said in a pre-recorded speech released on his Telegram news channel.

There were concerns for the safety of the evacuees. People who have fled Russian-held territories in the past have described seeing their vehicles fired upon, and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russian forces of shelling agreed evacuation routes.

A Ukrainian defender for the steel plant called on groups including the UN and the Red Cross to ensure the safety of the evacuees.

Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, told the Associated Press in an interview that there should be guarantees from “a third party – politicians, world leaders – who will work together to negotiate with the Russians to get us out of here.” .

Another defender of the plant said Russian forces resumed shelling the plant on Sunday once the evacuation of a group of civilians was complete.

Denys Shlega, commander of the Ukrainian National Guard’s 12th Task Force Brigade, said in a TV interview Sunday night that several hundred civilians were trapped, along with nearly 500 wounded soldiers and “numerous” dead.

“Several dozen small children are still in the bunkers under the facility,” Mr. Shlega said.

As many as 100,000 people could still be in Mariupol, including an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian militants beneath the sprawling Soviet-era steelworks — the only part of the city not occupied by the Russians.

Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of ​​Azov, has seen some of the worst suffering. A maternity hospital was hit by a Russian airstrike in the first weeks of the war and hundreds of people were reportedly killed in the bombing of a theater.

The city is a key destination due to its strategic location near the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia captured from Ukraine in 2014.

Mr Palamar, Ukraine’s commander, told the AP on Sunday that even reaching some of the wounded at the steel mill had been difficult.

“There is debris. We don’t have any special equipment. It’s difficult for soldiers to lift tons of slabs with just their arms,” ​​he said. “We hear voices of people who are still alive (in destroyed buildings).”

United Nations humanitarian spokesman Saviano Abreu said civilians arriving in Zaporizhzhia, some 140 miles northwest of Mariupol, would receive immediate humanitarian assistance, including psychological services. A MSF team was at a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhia to prepare for the arrival of the UN convoy.

In his late night address on Sunday, Mr Zelenskyy accused Moscow of waging a “war of annihilation” and said Russian shelling hit food, grain and fertilizer warehouses and residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv, Donbas and other regions.

He also said that more than 350,000 people were evacuated from combat zones during the war thanks to humanitarian corridors agreed with Moscow.

“The organization of humanitarian corridors is one of the elements of the ongoing negotiation process,” he said.

https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/europe/civilians-trapped-in-mariupol-steel-plant-for-nearly-two-months-evacuated-41606637.html Civilians trapped in the Mariupol Steel Plant for almost two months were evacuated

Fry Electronics Team

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