Heavy fighting at Mariupol steel plant where 30 children remain trapped

Convoy of buses left port city on Wednesday, says Donetsk governor

Rory Sullivan
Wednesday 04 May 2022 21:41
Comments
<p>The damaged Azovstal steel plant pictured on 3 May, 2022</p>

The damaged Azovstal steel plant pictured on 3 May, 2022

Heavy fighting continues at Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant, where dozens of children are still trapped, the city’s mayor has said.

Speaking on Wednesday, Vadym Boichenko said more than 30 children remain holed up at the site, which is Ukraine’s last stronghold in the port city. He added that Ukrainian authorities had also lost contact with the soldiers who are stationed at the sprawling steelworks.

“Today there are heavy battles on the territory of our fortress, on the territory of Azovstal,” he said. “Our brave guys are defending this fortress, but it is very difficult, because heavy artillery and tanks are firing all over the fortress; aviation is working; ships have approached and are also firing on the fortress.”

Teams from the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived in Mariupol at the end of last week to oversee evacuations from Azovstal. Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, later announced that more than 100 civilians had been rescued from the besieged plant.

“I hope the continued coordination with Kyiv and Moscow will lead to more humanitarian pauses that will allow civilians safe passage away from the fighting, and aid to reach people where the needs are greatest,” he said.

The first evacuees from Azovstal reached the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday, after spending weeks below ground taking cover from Russian attacks.

A 70-year-old woman, who had lived in Azovstal for two months with her son and young granddaughter, said she had given up hope of being rescued. “We had said goodbye to life. We didn’t think anyone knew we were there,” Valentina Sytnykova said.

Around 200 civilians are thought still to be stuck at Azovstal, while tens of thousands of people remain in other parts of the city, according to Mr Boichenko, the mayor of Mariupol.

On Wednesday, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, said another convoy of buses had left Mariupol in the direction of Zaporizhzhia. However, he did not specify how many vehicles there were or whether any of the evacuees were from Azovstal.

This comes amid Ukrainian intelligence reports that the Kremlin is planning to host a parade in Mariupol on 9 May, the day when Russia celebrates Victory Day to commemorate the defeat of the Nazis in 1945.

Preparations are being made to clean Mariupol’s streets of “debris, unexploded ordnance and ... the bodies of those killed”, according to The Kyiv Independent.

The UN has said that at least 6,469 civilians have died since Vladimir Putin’s war began on 24 February. However, it acknowledged that the true number is likely to be much higher.

Additional reporting from agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in