Evacuees recount sheltering in Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol

0
13
Evacuees recount sheltering in Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol

Evacuees from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, recalled the terror of cowering for weeks from Russian shelling, as they traveled to friendly territory Monday.

The first civilians are expected to arrive in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia later Monday, following a coordinated effort by the UN and the Red Cross to secure their safety.

“The soldiers came and escorted the first 11 people out [of our bunker], those who were seriously ill, had asthma or needed insulin and also three of us, randomly,” Yelena Aytulova, 44, said Monday during a stopover in Russian-occupied territory. “More than 40 people, including little children, are left there.”

“For a month we were eating — over 40 of us — six tins of food. We boiled two buckets of soup out of them and that was it for the whole day,” Aytulova said.

More than 100 civilians are reported to have left the sprawling steel plant Monday, where Ukrainian defenders planned to make their final stand.

Civilians getting evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine on May 1, 2022.
Civilians getting evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 1, 2022.
David Arakhamia/Azov Regiment /Cover Images/INSTARimages.com

Meanwhile, up to 200 civilians remained trapped inside bunkers in the steel works, according to Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment.

Palamar said Ukrainian forces do not have the equipment to dislodge the rubble.

“We were planning to tear up the bunkers, the entrance to which is blocked, but all night into Monday naval artillery and barrel artillery were firing. All day today aviation has been working, dropping bombs,” Palamar said.

Over 100 people have been evacuated from the plant and up to 200 still remain trapped.
Over 100 people have been evacuated from the plant and up to 200 still remain trapped.
David Arakhamia/Azov Regiment /Cover Images/INSTARima

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin made a show of halting a planned assault of the plant and declared victory in Mariupol, the site has been hit by repeated Russian airstrikes in recent days.

Natalia Usmanova, 37, recalled hiding in an Azovstal bunker during an attack.

“I feared that the bunker would not withstand it — I had terrible fear,” she told Reuters.

A service member helping a woman escape the besieged steel plant.
A service member helping a woman escape the besieged steel plant.
David Arakhamia/Azov Regiment /Cover Images/INSTARimages.com

“When the bunker started to shake, I was hysterical, my husband can vouch for that: I was so worried the bunker would cave in,” she said.

“We didn’t see the sun for so long,” Usmanova added.

“You just can’t imagine what we have been through — the terror,” she said. “I lived there, worked there all my life,” she said of Mariupol, “but what we saw there was just terrible.”

A family on a bus after leaving the bunkers at the Azovstal steel plant.
A family on a bus after leaving the bunkers at the Azovstal steel plant.
David Arakhamia/Azov Regiment /Cover Images/INST

Mariupol residents also continued to risk escape from the city in private cars Monday.

Yaroslav Dmytryshyn limped a damaged car two days to Zaporizhzhia on Monday with a back seat full of children. Signs on his car proclaimed “children” and “little ones.”

“I can’t believe we survived,” he said.

A line of buses with civilians who were evacuated from the plant in the settlement of Bezimennoe on May 2, 2022.
A line of buses with civilians who were evacuated from the plant in the settlement of Bezimennoe on May 2, 2022.
Photo by HANDOUT/Russian Defence Ministry/AFP via Getty Images
A man hugging his son after they were reunited in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on May 2, 2022.
A man hugging his son after they were reunited in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 2, 2022.
AP Photo/Francisco Seco

So far there are no plans to extract the Ukrainian fighters still holed up in Azovstal — a mix of Ukrainian marines, national guard, and members of the far-right Azov Regiment.

Russian airstrikes continued Sunday, following the evacuation, Petro Andryushchenko, a Mariupol official, said on Telegram.

“After the evacuation from Azovstal, the Russians opened fire on the plant again,” he wrote. 

People hugging near the buses used to transport the evacuees from  Azovstal.
People hugging near the buses used to transport the evacuees from Azovstal.
Photo by HANDOUT/Russian Defence Ministry/AFP via Getty Images
A woman crying after arriving at the evacuation point in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
A woman crying after arriving at the evacuation point in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

“Our defenders are just real heroes. It is impossible to understand how they hold on,” he added.

With Post wires

Source link