Russia-Ukraine conflict: Evacuations under way at steel plant in Mariupol

NEW DELHIEdited By: Nikhil PandeyUpdated: May 02, 2022, 09:45 AM IST

Russia continues to bombard eastern and southern cities of Ukraine, the war-torn nation is left in shambles amid a raging war. In the latest development, Ukraine's President Zelenksy vows to rebuild Odesa's military airfield runway which was destroyed in Russian.

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As many as 100,000 people may still be in blockaded Mariupol, including up to 1,000 civilians hunkered down with an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters beneath the Soviet-era steel plant — the only part of the city not occupied by the Russians.

The long-awaited evacuation of civilians from a besieged steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, began, with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating that she had spoken with Ukraine's president to emphasise unflinching US support for the country's defence against Russia's invasion.

Elderly ladies and mothers with little children were supported as they climbed a steep mound of wreckage from the massive Azovstal steel plant's collapse and boarded a bus, according to a video uploaded online by Ukrainian forces.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, more than 100 civilians, including women and children, are expected to arrive in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday.

"Today, for the first time in all the days of the war, this vitally needed (humanitarian) corridor has started working," he said in a pre-recorded address published on his Telegram messaging app channel.

The Azovstal steel complex came under fire after some civilians were evacuated, according to a Ukrainian soldier. It's estimated that hundreds of Ukrainian civilians are still trapped in the ruins of the plant.

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The Mariupol City Council announced on Telegram that inhabitants from other parts of the city would be evacuated beginning Monday morning. 

People fleeing Russian-occupied territories have previously reported their vehicles being shot at, and Ukrainian officials have regularly accused Russian soldiers of shelling agreed-upon evacuation routes.

Because of its strategic location near the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia captured from Ukraine in 2014, Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov, is a vital target.

Civilians who have been stranded inside the plant for nearly two months will receive immediate humanitarian assistance, including psychological treatment, once they reach in Zaporizhzhia, around 140 miles (230 kilometres) northwest of Mariupol, according to UN humanitarian spokesperson Saviano Abreu.

Mariupol has witnessed some of the most heinous atrocities. In the early stages of the war, a devastating Russian airstrike damaged a maternity hospital, and over 300 people were allegedly murdered when a theatre where civilians were taking shelter was bombed.