Around 100 civilians ‘remain trapped in Azovstal steel plant’ in Mariupol

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Smoke rises from the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal in Mariupol (AP)
Smoke rises from the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal in Mariupol (AP)

Around 100 civilians still remain trapped at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, Ukrainian officials have said, despite reports that all had been evacuated.

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in televised remarks on Tuesday 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,” Kyrylenko said.

He said everyone in Mariupol is “de-facto is held hostage by the Russians, and the occupiers take advantage of it, constantly changing the conditions of the evacuation.”

Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to the Mariupol mayor, also said civilians are still trapped at the Azovstal mill that is the last pocket of resistance in the embattled port city.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the two officials knew about the remaining civilians at the Azovstal plant and the fighters there have yet to confirm this.

A child emerges from the Azovstal steel plant during UN-led evacuations (VIA REUTERS)
A child emerges from the Azovstal steel plant during UN-led evacuations (VIA REUTERS)

Hundreds of civilians had sheltered at the plant.

Scores of them have been evacuated in recent days in a joint effort by Ukrainian authorities, the Russian military, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

On Saturday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that all women, children and elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal.

Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov, is a key target because of its strategic location near the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukrainian officials claimed shelling resumed soon after the evacuation (REUTERS)
Ukrainian officials claimed shelling resumed soon after the evacuation (REUTERS)

Mariupol has seen some of the worst suffering.

A maternity hospital was hit with a lethal Russian airstrike in the opening weeks of the war, and about 300 people were reported killed in the bombing of a theater where civilians were taking shelter.

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