More civilians rescued from 'hell' of besieged steelworks in Mariupol05/07/2022
Around 50 people, including 11 children, have been rescued from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
Those freed from the besieged site have spoken of their ‘hell’ at horrific conditions from within.
They join 100 others who were recently rescued, who had been holed up in the plant without food, water or medicine.
The Red Cross and the United Nations have been working with Ukrainian authorities to try reach those who remain, thought to be around 2,000 Ukrainian fighters and hundreds of civilians.
More rescue missions are planned in the coming weeks.
Mariupol has endured some of the worst attacks of the conflict so far, with scores of buildings destroyed and thousands of people killed.
The Azovstal steel plant is the last part of the city still in the hands of Ukrainian fighters – and they have vowed not to surrender.
The vast industrial complex spreads over four square miles in eastern Mariupol.
Evacuated civilians who had been hiding in the plant’s bomb shelters have been taken to a refugee camp in the village of Bezymyannoye
On Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was working on a ‘diplomatic effort’ to save those still trapped.
‘Influential intermediaries are involved, influential states,’ he said.
Russian troops reportedly gained access to the plant as a result of an electrician who knew its sprawling layout.
Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, who as deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment led defenders inside the mill, recently told Ukrainian TV that ‘heavy, bloody fighting is going on’.
The fall of Mariupol is a key aim for Putin and Moscow.
It would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Russia to establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
A victory would also free up troops to fight elsewhere in the Donbas, the eastern industrial region that the Kremlin says is now its chief objective.
There are fears of a renewed attack on the steel works, ahead of Russia’s Victory Day parade on Monday.
Ukrainian intelligence has even suggested Moscow has plans to hold part of the event in Mariupol.
In a chilling statement, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday: ‘The time will come to mark Victory Day in Mariupol.’
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