Zaporozhye, Ukraine – On Tuesday, Russian troops stormed a metallurgical plant containing the latest outbreak of resistance in Mariupol, Ukrainian defenders said, as did dozens of civilians evacuated from the bombed plant, achieved relative security and from constant shelling.

This was announced by UN Resident Coordinator for Ukraine Asnat Lubrani evacuation efforts over the weekend101 people – including women, the elderly and 17 children under the age of 6 months – were able to get out of the bunkers under the Azovstal metallurgical plants and “see the world in two months”.

One evacuee said she slept at the factory every night for fear of waking up.

“You can’t imagine how scary it is when you sit in a bomb shelter, in a damp and wet basement, and it bounces and trembles,” said 54-year-old Elina Tsybulchenko upon arrival in the Ukrainian-controlled city. Zaporozhye, about 140 miles northwest of Mariupol, is in a convoy of buses and ambulances.

She said that if a bomb similar to the ones that left the huge craters she had seen twice when she went outside hit the shelter, “we would all be shot down.”

The evacuees, some of whom were in tears, made their way from the buses to the tent, offering some amenities they had long refused for weeks underground, including hot food, diapers and contact with the outside world.

Mothers fed young children. Some of the evacuees viewed racks with donated clothing, including new underwear.

The news for those left behind was gloomier. Ukrainian commanders said Russian-backed forces had stormed an extensive plant that included a maze of tunnels and bunkers spanning 4 square miles.

How much Ukrainian fighters hid inside it was unclear, but the Russians estimated the figure at about 2,000 in recent weeks, and reported that 500 were injured. There are also several hundred civilians left, said Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Verashchuk.

“We will do everything possible to repel the assault, but we call for immediate measures to evacuate civilians who remain on the territory of the plant, and their safe withdrawal,” – said Deputy Commander of the Ukrainian Regiment “Azov” Svyatoslav Palamar. Telegram messaging program.

He added that naval artillery and air strikes were fired at the plant throughout the night. He said two civilian women were killed and 10 civilians were injured.

Lubrani from the UN expressed hope for further evacuation, but said nothing had been resolved.

In his night video, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that by storming a metallurgical plant, Russian troops had violated agreements on safe evacuation. He said that the previous evacuations were “not a victory yet, but it is the result. I think there is still a chance to save other people. “

In other events on the battlefield, Russian troops fired on a chemical plant in the eastern city of Avdeevka, killing at least 10 people, Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavel Kirilenko said.

“The Russians knew exactly where they were going – the workers had just finished their shift and were waiting for the bus at the bus stop to take them home,” Kirilenko wrote in the Telegram. “Another cynical crime of the Russians on our land.”

The explosions also took place in Lviv, in western Ukraine, near the border with Poland. As a result of the strikes, three power substations were damaged, electricity was cut off in some areas of the city and water supply was disrupted, and two people were injured, the mayor said. Lviv was a gateway to NATO-supplied weapons and a refuge for those fleeing fighting in the east.

The rocket also hit a mountain infrastructure in Transcarpathia, a region in western Ukraine bordering Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, authorities said. No information about the victims was received immediately.

A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Kanashenko, said that Russian aircraft and artillery had destroyed hundreds of objects over the past 24 hours, including military bases, command posts, artillery positions, fuel and ammunition depots and radar equipment.

Ukrainian authorities say the Russians have also attacked at least half a dozen railway stations across the country.

The storming of the Azovstal metallurgical plant began almost two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military not to storm the plant to finish off defenders, but to seal it. The first – and so far only – civilians evacuated from the destroyed plant came out during a brief ceasefire as part of an operation overseen by the UN and the Red Cross.

Stretchers and wheelchairs lined up at the reception point in Zaporizhia, and children’s shoes and toys were waiting for the column. Medical and psychological teams were on standby.

Some of the elderly evacuees on arrival looked exhausted. Some of the young people, especially mothers comforting babies and other young children, felt relieved.

“I am very happy to be on Ukrainian soil,” said the woman, who said only her name Anna and came with two children aged 1 and 9. “We thought we weren’t going to get out of there.”

A small group of women held inscriptions in English asking to evacuate the fighters also from the metallurgical plant.

The arrival of the evacuees was rare good news in a nearly 10-week conflict that killed thousands, forced millions to flee the country, devastated cities and towns, and shifted the balance of power in the east after the Cold War. Europe.

“In recent days, traveling with evacuees, I have heard mothers, children and weak grandparents talk about the trauma of life day after day under incessant heavy shelling and fear of death, as well as extreme shortages of water, food and sanitation,” – said Lubrani. “They talked about the hell they went through.”

In addition to 101 people evacuated from the metallurgical plant, 58 joined a column in a town on the outskirts of Mariupol, Lubrani said. About 30 people who left the plant decided to stay in Mariupol to find out if their loved ones were alive, Lubrani said. A total of 127 evacuees arrived in Zaporozhye, she said.

Earlier, the Russian military said some of the evacuees had decided to stay in areas held by pro-Moscow separatists.

Tsybulchenko rejected Russia’s claims that Ukrainian militants would not allow civilians to leave the plant. She said the Ukrainian military had told civilians they could go but risk their lives if they did.

“We clearly understood that with this murder weapon we will not survive, we will not go anywhere,” she said.

Mariupol became a symbol of human suffering caused by the war. A two-month siege of a strategic southern port by Russians detained civilians with or without food, water, medicine and heat as Moscow forces smashed the city into ruins. The plant particularly impressed the outside world.

After Russia failed to take Kyiv in the first weeks of the war, Russia withdrew from the capital and announced that its main goal was to seize Ukraine’s eastern industrial center, known as the Donbass.

Mariupol is in the region, and its fall will deprive Ukraine of a vital port, allow Russia to build a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014, and release troops for hostilities elsewhere in the Donbas.

But so far Russian troops and their allied separatist forces appear to have made little progress in the eastern offensive.

Resistance to Ukraine was greatly strengthened by Western weapons, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new military aid of $ 375 million, including radars, drones and armored vehicles.

In his speech in the Ukrainian parliament, he declared the battle “the best hour” for Ukraine, echoing the words of Winston Churchill during World War II.

“Your children and grandchildren will say that the Ukrainians have taught the world that the brute force of the aggressor has nothing against the moral strength of the people who have decided to be free,” Johnson said.

Associated Press journalists Inna Varenitsa and David Keitan in Kyiv, John Gambrell and Yuras Karmanov in Lviv, Mstislav Chernov in Kharkiv, and AP staffers around the world.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.

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