People hiding at Mariupol steel plant have 'only a few days or even hours left,' Ukrainian commander says

People hiding at Mariupol steel plant have 'only a few days or even hours left,' Ukrainian commander says
·3 min read
An aerial view of Mariupol's steel plant as it is hit with heavy artillery
A screenshot from footage shared by the Mariupol City Council on Monday showing Russian forces striking the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine with heavy artillery.Mariupol City Council
  • Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are hiding in a Mariupol steel plant as Russia attacks the city.

  • A top Ukrainian official said people at the plant may have hours or days left before death or capture.

  • Maj. Serhii Volyna urged world leaders to evacuate the plant and save the people inside.

The civilians and soldiers hiding from Russian troops in a metal works in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol may only have hours or days left to live, a Ukrainian military commander said on Tuesday evening.

Maj. Serhii Volyna, commander of Ukraine's 36th Separate Marine Brigade, spoke to CNN by phone, and urged other countries to help evacuate people from the plant.

"I have a statement to the world. It may be my last statement, because we have only a few days, or even hours, left.

"We appeal to world leaders to apply the extraction procedure to the military of the Mariupol garrison, to the civilians who are with us here at the plant. We ask you to take us to the territory of a third country and provide us with security."

He said there were "hundreds of civilians" sheltering in the plant, and that around 500 military members there were injured. Volyna added that it was difficult to get them medical care because of the Russian presence in the city.

Ukrainian civilians and troops have been sheltering in the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant, which has a network of underground tunnels, for several weeks. In recent days, Russia has started dropping bunker-busting bombs on the plant, which are designed to target underground and well-fortified areas, the Associated Press reported.

Mariupol's City Council said on Telegram on Monday that civilians in the plant were mostly "women with children and the elderly."

Mikhail Vershinin, the head of the patrol police for the Donetsk region, where Mariupol is located, said on Sunday that children were among the civilians at the plant, Politico reported.

The steel plant has become a shelter for troops and civilians still in the city, and it may be the last pocket of resistance there.

A Mariupol police official told CNN that supplies of food and water were running low.

Mariupol — a port city which would give Russian forces a significant strategic advantage if completely captured — has been one of Ukraine's worst-hit areas since Russian troops invaded the country on February 24. Capturing Mariupol would effectively give Russia control over the land route from Russian-controlled Crimea and the eastern Donbas region.

Russia has repeatedly ordered Ukrainian soldiers left in Mariupol to surrender, but they have so far refused.

Ukrainian officials estimate that around 21,000 civilians have been killed in the city. Pavlo Kirilenko, Donetsk's governor, said on Wednesday that the death toll in Mariupol is unknown.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday: "The city doesn't exist anymore. The remaining of the Ukrainian army and large group of civilians are basically encircled by the Russian forces."

Read the original article on Business Insider