First civilians evacuated from Mariupol’s besieged plant

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A group of civilians including women and children have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, said Ukrainian official and Russian state news organisations.
About 1,000 troops and as many civilians, including the elderly, women and children, are believed to have been sheltered in the labyrinthine tunnel network beneath the steelworks.
About 20 civilians have been evacuated but hundreds of people are believed to remain trapped with little food, water or medicine.
The United Nations was working to broker an evacuation of more civilians living beneath the plant after numerous previous attempts failed, which Ukraine blamed on continued Russian shelling.
Ukraine has not said how many fighters are also in the plant, the only part of Mariupol not occupied by Russian forces, but Russia put the number at about 2,000. An estimated 100,000 civilians remain in the besieged city.
UN humanitarian spokesperson Saviano Abreu said the organisation was negotiating with authorities in Moscow and Kyiv, but he could not provide details of the ongoing evacuation effort “because of the complexity and fluidity of the operation.” Mr Abreu said, “There is, right now, ongoing, high-level engagements with all the governments, Russia and Ukraine, to make sure that you can save civilians and support the evacuation of civilians from the plant,”
Russian forces have embarked on a major military operation to seize significant parts of southern and eastern Ukraine, the country’s industrial heartland. Ukrainian forces fought village-by-village Saturday to hold back the Russian advance.
Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency said on Saturday that 19 adults and six children were brought out from the steelworks, but gave no further details.
Video and images from inside the plant showed unidentified men with stained bandages; others had open wounds or amputated limbs. In the video the men said that they eat just once daily and share as little as 1.5L of water a day among four people, and that supplies inside the besieged facility are depleted.



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