At least 100 civilians still trapped at Mariupol steel works, officials say
Shafaq News / At least 100 civilians are still trapped in the besieged Mariupol steelworks, a Ukrainian official has said, despite earlier reports suggesting all those stuck in the sprawling plant had been rescued.
In recent days, the United Nations and Red Cross organised a dramatic rescue of what some officials said were the last civilians trapped at the plant in the southern port city.
However, on Tuesday, two officials said about 100 people were believed to still be in the complex’s underground tunnels, which continue to be targeted by Russian assaults, according to Ukrainian accounts.
Along with civilians, an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters, representing the last pocket of organised resistance in the embattled city, remain holed up at the steel works in the strategic port on the Azov Sea.
"In addition to the military, at least 100 civilians remain in the (Azovstal) shelters," Mariupol mayoral aide Petro Andryushchenko said.
"However, this does not reduce the intensity of attacks by the occupiers."
Last week, Ukrainian officials believed around 200 civilians were trapped at the plant, though current estimates are contested.
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, said that those left behind are the civilians that “the Russians have not selected”.“How and based on what criteria they take people out (of the plant) is something only the occupiers know,” he added. Both of these claims could not be independently verified.
Ukraine's Azov regiment said Russian forces have targeted the Soviet-era industrial facility 34 times over the past 24 hours, with attempts to storm the plant also continuing.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said all women, children and elderly people had been evacuated from the plant, but Tuesday's comments raise uncertainty over how many people remain trapped.
Much of Mariupol, which had a pre-war population of around 400,000 people, has been reduced to rubble by constant Russian assaults, which have trapped civilians with little heat, food, water or medicine.The deteriorating security situation in the southern city comes as Russian attacks continue targeting infrastructure in other strategically important areas in Ukraine.
In Odesa, the major Black Sea port, one person was killed and five left injured after seven missiles struck a shopping centre and a depot on Monday, according to Ukrainian armed forces.
This targeting is reportedly part of efforts to disrupt the supply lines and weapons shipments that have been critical to Kyiv’s defence against Russian aggression.
Air raid sirens sounded as the missiles interrupted a meeting between European Council President Charles Michel, and the Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, forcing them into a bomb shelter on Monday.
Odesa is a major gateway for grain shipments, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned Russia's blockade of his country's Black Sea ports threatens global food supplies.