Hundreds of civilians remain trapped in underground bunkers and tunnels beneath Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks– the last stronghold of resistance to Russia’s siege of the southern port city – which Moscow’s forces resumed shelling overnight.
“The situation has become a sign of a real humanitarian catastrophe.”Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister
“The situation has become a sign of a real humanitarian catastrophe,” Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, with supplies of water, food and medicine fast running out. According to a report in UK newspaper the Guardian, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said about 100 civilians should arrive in the city of Zaporizhzhia.
“For the first time in all the days of the war, this vitally needed green corridor has started working.”Volodymyr Zelenskiy, president of Ukraine
“For the first time in all the days of the war, this vitally needed green corridor has started working,” Zelenskiy said overnight. Some evacuees were initially taken to a village held by Moscow-backed separatists, but later allowed to continue to Ukrainian-held territory if they wanted.
Speaking earlier from the Russian-controlled town of Bezimenne, evacuee Natalia Usmanova, 37, said after leaving the steelworks that she became hysterical whenever the bunker started to shake. “I was so worried it would cave in – I had terrible fear,” she told Reuters, recalling widespread terror and a lack of oxygen underground.
Mariupol, which is almost entirely held by Russian forces, is a key target because its capture would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, open up a land corridor to Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014, and free up troops for what has become the main focus of the invasion: achieving full control of the eastern Donbas region.
Ukraine said on Monday it had formally closed the Black and Azov seaports of Kherson, Mariupol, Berdiansk and Skadovsk, all of which have been captured by Russian forces.
Source: The Guardian