All civilians evacuated from besieged Mariupol steel plant

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In an operation that began a week ago, the evacuation of all elderly people, women and children from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have been completed, both Ukraine and Russia have announced.

The evacuation of the civilians has been coordinated by the United Nations and Red Cross, which have not confirmed the news.

Ukrainian forces are holding out at the heavily bombed plant, the last part of the city not under Russian control.

Russia has besieged the plant for weeks, demanding the surrender of its defenders from the Azov battalion.

The whereabouts of the evacuees are not yet clear, but Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said this part of the humanitarian operation was now complete.

In the past, it has taken days for those evacuated to reach Ukrainian-held territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 300 civilians had been rescued from the plant, although the Russian defence ministry gave a much lower number, saying 51 people had been evacuated over a period of three days.

Mr. Zelensky said diplomatic efforts were continuing to get military personnel out of Mariupol.

Capturing Mariupol is important to Russian troops because it will allow them to complete a land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas region, as well as giving them full control of more than 80% of Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.

But in their quest to do so, they have pummelled Mariupol with artillery, rockets and missiles – damaging or destroying more than 90% of the city. (Source: BBC)

 

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