Civilians flee besieged Mariupol steel plant ‘on borderline between life and death’

The first group of civilians has been evacuated from Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steelworks since Vladimir Putin ordered it to be sealed off, Ukrainian commanders trapped inside say.

Around 20 civilians managed to go away on Saturday night – although it isn’t recognized if they’ve reached the agreed security level in Zaporizhzhia, which is managed by Ukraine. 

The big steelworks is the ultimate pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, the southern port metropolis that has been devastated by Russian forces. Around 1,000 civilians and Ukrainian troops stay trapped. 

Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, stated that after an evacuation convoy arrived on Saturday evening, “we have brought 20 civilians to the agreed meeting point, whom we’ve managed to rescue from under the rubble – these are women and children”.

But Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boychenko, echoed the commander’s name for the various wounded nonetheless awaiting evacuation from the plant after weeks of delays, telling the BBC that individuals are “on the borderline between life and death”.

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