Nearly 500 civilians have been evacuated from the battered city of Mariupol and the besieged Azovstal steel plant since a UN-led rescue operation began, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office said Friday.
“We managed to evacuate almost 500 civilians,” Andriy Yermak said on Telegram. He said Kiev will “do everything to save all its civilians and military personnel” trapped in the devastated city, adding that evacuations would continue.
In a separate Telegram post, Yermak said that “another phase of rescuing our people in Azovstal continues”.
He said Ukraine “will give the results of this later”.
Ukraine’s remaining soldiers in Mariupol and some civilians have holed up in the tunnels of the massive Azovstal factory, which has been under siege for weeks by Russian troops.
The evacuations led by the UN and the Red Cross started last weekend.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told AFP Friday’s evacuations would target those still trapped in the factory.
“Today we will focus precisely on Azovstal,” she told AFP by phone.
“The operation is underway. We pray for its success.”
On Thursday, a commander of Ukraine’s Azov battalion, which has been fighting to defend Mariupol, called for the evacuation of the remaining civilians at the factory and for help for “dying” wounded soldiers.
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