“Tanks, soldiers, turrets aimed at us, cannons aimed at us” – Dublin cameraman on a daring escape from Mariupol

A Dublin native and ITN cameraman who has left Ukraine Last week said the situation in the port city of Mariupol was “particularly dire”.

ean Swan is an ITN cameraman who spent 74 days in Ukraine for ITV News, including four weeks in Mariupol.

Originally from Drumcondra, Mr. Swan has covered conflict zones in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

He has spoken about the brave attempt he and his colleagues recently made to escape from the besieged city.

Mr Swan described his 74 days in Ukraine as a “long stay” and said the siege of Mariupol was a “catastrophe”.

“I’ve seen a lot in my years, but Mariupol in particular was terrible. They destroyed the city,” he said.

Speaking of RTÉ Today with Claire Byrne On the programme, Mr Swan said their hotel had been heavily shelled, they were running out of food and had no way of powering their equipment.

“We had hired people from the area who weren’t too happy about being there, so we decided to give it a try and try to get out of the siege,” he said.

“We were lucky that a Greek diplomat was bringing several Greek families with him… so he had arranged a convoy that would hopefully break through the Russian lines. So we got used to this one.”

Mr Swan described how the convoy drove through ‘no man’s land’ as it left the city and on the way everyone thought ‘okay where are the Russians, where are the Russians, we’re going to meet them’.

“Out of the fog, there they were,” he said.

“Tanks, soldiers, turrets aimed at us, cannons aimed at us. A guy got out of the lead vehicle to talk to them. We were there for like an hour while he negotiated and then they came down, checked all of us, searched all our bags, all that stuff… and then we drove through.”

Mr Swan said “hundreds of thousands” of people were trying to flee Mariupol at the same time and what should have been a five-hour drive took 22 hours because the “roads were full”.

He said some of the Russian soldiers they encountered near Mariupol had come from Crimea and were “experienced,” but further inland they were much younger, often 18 or 19 years old, and “just looking for cigarettes.” and food”, which is “very strange”.

Despite the real danger he faced in Ukraine, Mr Swan said he was not afraid for his life but was more concerned for the safety of his team as a whole.

From Mariupol they eventually made it to Odessa, where it was safer, but he said they could still hear shells nearby.

“Odessa nights basically had air raid sirens every night and you got into this kind of blaséness and then last Sunday six cruise missiles landed about a mile and a half away which then when you heard the air raid sirens the other night after that you waited on the explosions.

“So you didn’t sleep very well,” he said.

Mr Swan, who lives in the Middle East, said he expects to return to Ukraine next month and looks forward to seeing his colleagues there.

However, he said the situation was serious for many locals he met in Mariupol.

“One officer we spoke to at the checkpoint in Mariupol, the last message we had with him was ‘we’re out of ammo, we’re out of food, we’re about to be overrun,’ and we haven’t had that since heard,” he added.

https://www.independent.ie/news/tanks-soldiers-turrets-pointed-at-us-guns-pointed-at-us-dublin-cameraman-on-daring-escape-from-mariupol-41545760.html “Tanks, soldiers, turrets aimed at us, cannons aimed at us” – Dublin cameraman on a daring escape from Mariupol

Fry Electronics Team

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