Dozens of people, including women and children, have been evacuated from a steel plant in the city of Mariupol.
Two groups from a residential area around the Azovstel Steelworks, the last Ukrainian stronghold in the bombing ruins of the southern Ukrainian city, were quoted on Saturday by Russian news agencies as quoting the Ministry of Defense on Sunday.
A total of 46 civilians were evacuated from the area and were “provided with food and shelter,” the ministry said, according to RIA and TASS reports. Those brought out included 19 adults and six children. No further details were reported.
Several attempts to arrange a ceasefire for residents to leave the city have failed, with Moscow and Kiev repeatedly blaming each other.
A leader of the Ukrainian battalion defending the Azov battalion said 20 civilians had been evacuated during the ceasefire, although it was unclear whether he was referring to the same group, according to Russian news reports.
“Twenty civilians, women and children … have been relocated and we hope they will be deported to Ukraine-controlled Zaporizhia,” Svyatoslav Palmer said in a video posted on the battalion’s Telegram channel.
He said heavy fighting had been carried out on the site overnight, adding that militants were still searching for civilians to go into the rubble and rescue civilians.
“Throughout the night, enemy artillery bombed the site,” he said. “The Azov Brigade is still clearing the rubble to evacuate civilians. We hope this process will continue so that all civilians can be evacuated.
There has been no confirmation from the United Nations regarding the eviction. The world body is trying to evacuate civilians from the only part of the Mariupol plant that remains in the hands of Ukrainian troops.
It is estimated that 1,000 civilians and several hundred Ukrainian soldiers are trapped in the maze of underground tunnels beneath the steelworks. Many of them require medical attention.
Call to expel the militants
Video and pictures from inside the plant were shared with The Associated Press by two Ukrainian women who claimed that their husbands were among the militants who refused to surrender there, showing unidentified men with stained bandages; Others had open wounds or severed limbs.
The women identified their husbands as members of the Azov Regiment, as a skeleton paramedic was treating at least 600 wounded. They said some of the wounds were rotten from the hernia.
In the video, the men say they eat once a day, share 1.5 liters (50 ounces) of water a day with four people, and run out of supplies inside the besieged facility.
The shirtless man appears to be in pain when describing his injuries: two broken ribs, a pierced lung and a dislocated arm “hanging in the flesh”.
“I want to tell everyone who sees this: if you do not stop here, in Ukraine, it will go further to Europe,” he said.
The women told the AP that the video was taken last week in the corridors and bunkers under the plant. They also demanded that Ukrainian militants be expelled along with civilians, warning that they could be tortured and hanged if caught.
“The lives of the soldiers are also important,” said Yulia Feduciuque from Rome, Italy.
Saviano Abrew, a spokesman for the UN Humanitarian Office, said the WTO was in talks with officials in Moscow and Kiev, but could not provide details of an ongoing evacuation attempt “due to the complexity and fluidity of the process.”
“Right now, there are high-level engagements with all governments, including Russia and Ukraine, that you can save the public and support the eviction of civilians from the plant,” Abrew said.
Ukraine has repeatedly blamed the failure of several expulsion attempts prior to the Russian shelling.
Recent satellite images of the US-based Maxar Technologies taken on Friday show that almost all buildings were destroyed during the ironworks.
Some roofs have been drilled or completely sunk, and some buildings have collapsed.
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