Ukraine Says Russians Have Stormed Mariupol Plant

Some defenders are still holed up in maze of tunnels, bunkers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 3, 2022 2:18 PM CDT
Ukraine Says Russian Forces Are Storming Mariupol Plant
This frame taken from an undated video provided Sunday, May 1, 2022 by the Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard shows people walking over debris at the Azovstal steel plant, in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine.   (Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard via AP)

Russian forces began storming the steel mill containing the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol on Tuesday, Ukrainian defenders said, just as scores of civilians evacuated from the bombed-out plant over the weekend reached safer territory and recounted days and nights filled with dread from constant shelling. Osnat Lubrani, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said that thanks to the evacuation effort, "101 women, men, children, and older persons could finally leave the bunkers below the Azovstal steelworks and see the daylight after two months," the AP reports.

The news for those left behind was more grim. Ukrainian commanders said Russian forces backed by tanks began storming the sprawling plant, which includes a maze of tunnels and bunkers spread out over 4 square miles. How many Ukrainian fighters were holed up inside was unclear, but the Russians put the number at about 2,000 in recent weeks, and 500 were reported to be wounded. A few hundred civilians also remained there, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

"We’ll do everything that’s possible to repel the assault, but we’re calling for urgent measures to evacuate the civilians that remain inside the plant and to bring them out safely," Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, said on the messaging app Telegram. He added that throughout the night, the plant was hit with naval artillery fire and airstrikes. Two civilian women were killed and 10 civilians wounded, he said. In other battlefield developments, Russian troops shelled a chemical plant in the eastern city of Avdiivka, killing at least 10 people, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. "The Russians knew exactly where to aim—the workers just finished their shift and were waiting for a bus at a bus stop to take them home,” Kyrylenko said.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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